Fresh off a five-set home win over in-state foe Weber State, the Utah Valley University volleyball team returns to Western Athletic Conference play at league foe Seattle University on Saturday afternoon. The key WAC match takes place at 2 p.m. MT, at Seattle U's Connolly Complex in Seattle, Washington.
The Wolverines enter Saturday's match with a 12-13 overall record and currently in third place in the WAC standings with a 7-4 league record with just three regular season matches remaining. After earning a five-set victory over Weber State in non-conference action on Tuesday, Utah Valley has now won eight of its last 10 matches.
In Tuesday's 3-2 win over Weber State, UVU recorded its sixth five-set victory of the season and its ninth five-set contest overall. Both mark program records, as the Wolverines are now 6-3 in five-set thrillers on the year.
UVU had to overcome a late fifth-set deficit to upend the Wildcats. With WSU holding to a 14-12 match-point lead, the Wolverines responded with a Sierra Starley and Brighton Taylor block assist followed by a Wildcat attack error to stave off match point and tie the score at 14-14. With the score still tied at 15-15, UVU made its move with timely consecutive kills from Izzie Hinton and Lexi Thompson to complete the comeback with a 17-15 fifth-set victory.
Four Wolverines topped double figures in kills in the contest, led by Thompson's match-high 16. Madison Dennison, Hinton and Kiahna Vernon were next by notching 12 apiece, while Dennison also added a match-best eight blocks. Starley and Nakisha Willden too had big outings, as Starley recorded a double-double with 48 assists and 13 digs, while Willden led the way from the back row with a match-high 26 digs.
Thompson paces UVU on the season offensively with 269 kills and a 2.99 kill per set average, while Dennison leads the Wolverines at the net with 150 total blocks and a 1.49 blocks per set average and in hitting with a .279 attack percentage. Her blocking tallies are also good enough to rank her second in total blocks and 11th in blocks per set average, nationally. As a team, UVU also ranks second nationally in total team blocks with 300.0 and sixth with a 2.97 blocks per set average.
About the opposition
Seattle U enters Saturday's contest with a 12-12 overall record and in sixth place in the conference standings with a 5-6 league mark. The Redhawks have split their last four matches, with wins over UT Rio Grande Valley and Chicago State and losses to New Mexico State and UMKC. SU was picked to finish third in the WAC this year after going 18-11 overall a season ago and 9-5 in conference play.
Matea Mamic leads the Redhawk offense with 290 kills and a 3.45 kills per set average, while Katarina Marinkovic is right behind her with a 3.28 per set clip. Maja Stojanovic tops the team in blocks with a 1.13 per set average.
Saturday's contest will mark the 11th all-time meeting between UVU and SU on the volleyball court. The all-time series is currently tied at 5-5 after Utah Valley pulled out a four-set victory over Seattle U last month in a match that was contested at nearby Pleasant Grove High School.
Up next for UVU
The Wolverines return home for their final two matches of the regular season next weekend. UVU will first host Grand Canyon on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m., for Senior Night before welcoming second-place CSU Bakersfield to town on Saturday, Nov. 12, for a 1 p.m. start time. Both matches will be held in UVU's newly renovated PE Building.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.