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Wolverines win independent title

GREELEY, Colorado — The Utah Valley State volleyball team got on a late-season roll that led it to the Division I Independent Championship over South Dakota State Saturday night at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion on the campus of Northern Colorado.

The Wolverines swept UNC, 30-26, 30-21, 30-25, in the morning match to get them into the championship, and then took home the title by beating SDSU in four games, 30-28, 31-29, 19-30, 30-27. In the tournament UV went 5-0, winning its last 10 out of 11 matches to close out the season on a great note.

"It was a great run," said head coach Sam Atoa. "It was awesome to see the girls earn what they deserved in the end. I'm just over joyed for them."

Lacee Koelliker was named tournament MVP, and Camie Manwill and Maegan Hoyt were named to the All-Tournament team.

Manwill notched a career-high 22 kills (and 14 digs) in the championship match, while senior Anne Olsen closed out her career with 21 tallies. Brooke Adams finished with 11 to round out the UV attack. Koelliker captained the offensive effort recording 59 assists to go along with 17 digs, and Hoyt finished her fine career with 28 digs.

With the late season run, the Wolverines finish out a fine season with an overall record of 18-11.

"This is not only great for our program, but it is great for the school and the athletic department as a whole," said Atoa.

In game one, it was neck-and-neck all the way through, with UV taking a late one point lead at 27-26. The Jacks would tie the set at 27-27, but Olsen would help UV take the lead with a cross court smash, and a Jack hitting error would give the Wolverines a 29-27 lead to force a SDSU timeout. The Jacks would cut the lead to one at 29-28, but Olsen would finish SDSU off with a blast to win the game 30-28. Olsen pounded out nine kills in the game.

Olsen notched double digit kills early in game two to tie the set at 6-6.

The Wolverines would take a two point advantage at 12-10, but the Jacks would score the next three points to take a one point advantage at 13-12 to force a UV timeout. Olsen would continue to be big in the set powering down three consecutive kills to give UV back the lead at 15-13. The Jacks would fight and regain the lead at 21-19. A 4-0 run would give UV a 22-21 lead, and the Wolverines would extend that lead to 25-22 on a Manwill swing. SDSU would maintain poise and make a 4-0 run of its own to retake the lead at 26-25 when Atoa would call for a break. UV would get its breath back and score the next three points to take a 28-26 lead. The Wolverines would have game point at 29-28, but Olsen would get blocked to tie the set at 29-29.

Brooke Adams would hammer to get back to game point, and Manwill would finish to secure the game two win and give UV a 2-0 advantage.

The Jacks would take an early 3-1 lead in game three, and would extend that lead to 7-2, before a UV timeout. The Wolverines would fight back and cut the lead to one at 9-8. SDSU would score the next three points to make it 12-8, and the Wolverines would counter and tie the set at 13 all. The Jacks would then go on a 4-0 run to force another UV timeout at 17-13. The Jacks would continue to hold the momentum and extend the lead to 26-16. SDSU would push for the victory trading point-for-point closing out game three 30-19.

Game four didn't disappoint as each team continued to exchange leads throughout, and the score was dead locked at 15-15, 18-18, 23-23, and 25-25.

The Wolverines would force the Jacks to take a timeout when they took a 27-25 advantage. UV would push for game point at 29-27, before Atoa would call timeout to draw up a play. It ended up being a championship call, as O'Neal would pass to Koelliker, and Koelliker would feed Manwill for the hammer, and the Division I Independent Championship.

Against UNC in the early match, Utah Valley State surprised the host team with the three-game sweep, making it the second consecutive win for the Wolverines over the Bears after seven straight losses over the past three seasons. It was UNC's second consecutive loss at home in the tournament, and also it's second loss after winning 35 straight at home.

Olsen had 13 kills, and Manwill had 11 to go along with her 14 digs.

Koelliker had 39 assists. As a team the Wolverines hit .185 to UNC's .081.

UV forced the Bears into 22 attack errors.

UV was outblocked by the Bears nine to six, but recorded 15 (48 to 33) more kills than UNC in the match. Lizzy Rhoads led UNC with nine kills.