The Utah Valley University volleyball team continues its young season at in-state foe Southern Utah on Tuesday evening in Cedar City. The first serve is set for 6 p.m., at SUU's Centrum Arena.
"We've got to be able to improve in certain areas of the game and get ourselves back on track for Southern Utah," said head UVU coach Sam Atoa. "Our kids are very capable of doing just that, and we are looking forward to Tuesday's in-state contest."
The Wolverines (0-3) opened their 2017 season with a trio of four-set setbacks at the SJSU/USF Invitational in Northern California this past weekend. UVU opened the tournament with back-to-back 3-1 defeats against Pepperdine (19-25, 25-23, 20-25, 27-29) and Fresno State (16-25, 17-25, 26-24, 22-25) on Friday in San Jose, before closing the opening trip with another 3-1 setback to Nevada (17-25, 25-20, 14-25, 19-25) on Saturday in San Francisco.
Seniors Lexi Thompson and Madison Dennison led the way for the Wolverines offensively at the SJSU/USF Invite by recording 34 and 32 respective kills for averages of 2.83 and 2.67 kills per set. Dennison also led the team in blocks by putting up 19 and a 1.58 per set average, while fellow senior Sierra Starley paced the squad in assists with 101 for an average of 8.42 per set. Starley also tallied a pair of double-doubles on the weekend after totaling 31 digs and a 2.58 digs per set average.
True freshmen Kristen Allred and Seren Merrill too played well for UVU in their inaugural collegiate matches at the SJSU/USF Invitational by putting up respective tallies of 2.09 kills per set and 2.75 digs per set.
All-time series vs. Southern Utah
Utah Valley enters Tuesday's contest with a 7-2 all-time series advantage over Southern Utah. The Wolverines won the first five-straight meetings before splitting the last four. UVU's last win in Cedar City came on September 21, 2010, when it defeated the Thunderbirds in straight sets.
About Southern Utah
The T-Birds enter Tuesday's matchup with a 1-3 record after taking one of four contests at their season-opening Charlotte Invitational in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the weekend. After falling to Elon (3-1) and the host Charlotte 49ers on Friday (3-2), SUU responded with a 3-0 sweep over South Carolina State on Saturday before wrapping the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Belmont.
SUU was picked to finish 12th in the Big Sky Conference preseason poll this season after going just 4-24 overall a year ago and tying for 11th in conference play with a 2-12 Big Sky record.
Former Wolverine Macky Fifita leads Southern Utah offensively on the young season with 64 total kills and a 4.00 kills per set average. She also recorded 45 digs for a 2.81 digs per set average en route to earning Charlotte Invitational All-Tournament Team honors. MaCail Evans fronts the T-Birds at the net with a 1.06 blocks per set mark.
Up next for Utah Valley
Following Tuesday's in-state meeting in Cedar City, UVU will return home to host the 2017 Wolverine Invitational at Lockhart Arena this weekend. Utah Valley will first take on No. 9 Kansas on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m., before facing Montana on Friday, Sept. 1 at 5 p.m., and Long Beach State on Saturday, Sept. 2 at noon.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.