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UVU volleyball: Wolverines fall to Idaho State, 3-0, in 2016 home opener

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Utah Valley juniors Sierra Starley (left) and Madison Dennison (right) leap for a block against Idaho State at the UCCU Center in Orem on Tuesday. Dennison led UVU in the contest with eight kills while Starley fronted the squad in assists with 15.

Utah Valley juniors Sierra Starley (left) and Madison Dennison (right) leap for a block against Idaho State at the UCCU Center in Orem on Tuesday. Dennison led UVU in the contest with eight kills while Starley fronted the squad in assists with 15.

Shane Truskolaski

The Utah Valley University volleyball team dropped a 3-0 (26-28, 19-25, 15-25) decision to cross-state rival Idaho State on Tuesday evening in the team's first-ever match held at the UCCU Center.

With the loss the Wolverines drop to 0-4 on the season, while the Bengals pick up their first win of the year to improve to 1-3.

"I wish that things would've been different and that we would have at least been able to make it a decent match for our friends and families," head coach Sam Atoa said. "We're just not playing very well right now. We need to find some answers so that we can break out of this early slump."

Utah Valley and Idaho State battled closely in the opening set as the two teams produced nine ties and four lead changes. ISU took a 25-24 lead before UVU tied it up at 25-25 on a Madison Dennison kill. An Idaho State hitting error then gave the Wolverines a 26-25 set-point advantage before a UVU service error tied the set back up a 26-26. A pair of Bengal kills then secured the set for ISU, at 28-26. Dennison and Alexis Davies led the Wolverines in the set with four kills apiece.

Idaho State jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead in the second game. The Wolverines rallied by taking five of the next six points to cut the Bengals lead to one point, 7-6. ISU then stopped the UVU comeback with six unanswered points to take a 13-6 lead. UVU rallied again to cut the ISU lead to just five points but couldn't get any closer as the Bengals scored three of the final five points to take a 25-19 set two win.

Tied 5-5 in the third set, Idaho State won three-straight points to take an 8-5 lead. The Wolverines then rallied to cut the lead to just one point, 9-8, before the Bengals won the next five points to jump out to a 14-8 advantage. ISU held on to its lead to secure the 25-15 win to claim the match victory.

Dennison led Utah Valley with eight kills on the night, while Davies helped with six. The preseason all-conference selection Dennison also registered a .375 attack percentage, knocking down her eight kills on 16 attacks. Nakisha Willden led UVU with 11 digs, while Sierra Starley fronted the Wolverines with 15 assists.

The matchup marked the 2016 home opener for the Wolverines and was contested in the UCCU Center due to ongoing renovations to UVU's PE Building.

"We were excited to be home and be able to play here in a new arena. But unfortunately we just weren't able to execute very well on both offense and defense," Atoa said. "We need to change it and try to figure things out so that we can get better in practice and be ready for this weekend."

Utah Valley continues play at the UCCU Center on Friday and Saturday, as the team hosts the Wolverine Invitational. UVU plays North Texas on Friday at 7 p.m. The Wolverines then play Southern Utah and San José State on Saturday at noon and 7 p.m., respectively.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.