The UVU Wolverines made quick work of their Southern Utah visitors on Tuesday night, winning in straight set 25-22, 25-16, 25-21 in non-league volleyball action.
But the win didn’t come without cost. In addition to the T’Bird team, the Wolverines (21-8) also had to overcome the loss of junior middle blocker Erica Nish, who twisted her knee in the first set with UVU leading 8-5. She left the match and did not return.
“She’ll see the doctor tomorrow,” said Wolverines head coach Sam Atoa. “We’ll find out how she is after that. I’m proud of the way we bounced back and I think Katie (Fritzler) stepped up and filled in for her very well.”
Fritzler added three kills, one block and five block assists, as her size and athleticism thwarted the Thunderbirds (10-20) on many occasions.
After a close first set, a combination of good decision making by setter Brookelyn Campbell, the power of outside hitter Jaicee Kuresa, and precision of the other outside hitter Chelsey Heaps was more than enough to take the the second set by a comfortable margin.
After UVU sped out to a 7-3 lead in the final set, SUU head coach Debby Baker called a timeout and in the huddle called out her players effort and issued a challenge to fight until the end. They responded as the Thunderbirds clawed back to tie the match at 9-9. SUU kept fighting to the end, but UVU managed to pull out the final set for the victyr.
Campbell ended with a team-high 27 assists to go along with her 13 digs and five kills playing the role of quarterback for the Wolverines. Heaps and Kuresa added the precision and power with 13 and 8 kills, respectively. UVU has won six of its past seven matches and 11 of the past 13.
Former Spanish Fork standout Kylie Schofield had seven kills, two digs and a block for SUU.
“Even though it wasn’t a conference game it was good to keep the momentum going,” Atoa said. “We’ll need it heading in to the North Dakota match.”
The Wolverines entered the season picked to finish second behind two-time defending conference champ North Dakota and on Friday, UVU will have the opportunity to claim the regular-season championship on their home floor.
• Women’s basketball: The Great West Conference women’s basketball coaches have selected Utah Valley to finish second in the annual preseason poll for the 2011-12 season. North Dakota was projected to win the GWC with 36 total votes, while UVU finished second in the poll with 26.
The Fighting Sioux won the inaugural GWC Regular-Season Title in 2009-10, while the Wolverines won the tournament crown that same season. Last year Chicago State won both the regular-season and tournament championships and this year the Cougars were projected to finish third with 23 votes.
Texas-Pan American, Houston Baptist and NJIT rounded out the preseason coaches’ poll with 22, 11 and eight votes respectively.