Utah Valley volleyball players celebrate a point during a game with Seattle U at Lockhart Arena on Saturday, November 13, 2021. (UVU Courtesy Photo)
A trio of Utah Valley seniors fueled a balanced attack to beat WAC opponents Seattle U 3-0 (25-17, 25-11, 25-21) at home on Senior Day. With the win, UVU ended their regular season with a 13-12 season record, including 8-6 in the WAC game. The Redhawks season is drawing to a close, ending with a 4:21 record in the year and 1-13 in conference play.
“Senior Day is always an emotional day and your goal is to play well,” said Sam Atoa, Utah Valley’s chief volleyball coach. “The momentum is important to the success of the program and it’s a lot more fun to celebrate a win. I’m happy for the team today, especially for those who won’t be returning, and it’s been a special day for them and a great win for us. “
After a point from Seattle U, the Wolverines took advantage of a 6-2 run to take an early 6-3 lead. Both teams exchanged the next seven points before Kristen Bell sparked a 5-0 run to increase the lead to 14-7. The Redhawks used a 7-3 run to reduce the lead to 17:14, but Kaili Downs and Sadie Hamson helped extend the lead to 19:14. Elena Bühler’s ace triggered the 6-1 run to end the set and gave UVU the first set, 25-17.
After a slow start to the second set, Tori Dorius and the Wolverines took advantage of a 5-0 rise to regain the lead 8-4. Bell and Downs took over from there when Utah Valley took an 11-2 run to take control of the second set, 20-8. UVU sailed from there to win the second set, 25-11, to take the game 2-0.
Seattle U got off to a hot start in the third set, taking advantage of an early 9-3 lead. Bell and Hamson led a 12-3 rise in the Wolverines to regain the lead at 15-12. Kazna Tanuvasa and Ellee Boyack helped UVU extend their lead to 19:14 before SU made a final push to reduce the lead to 23:21. A kill from Tanuvasa established the match point and Hamson hammered home the final kill to end the sweep, 25-21.
Bell led the Wolverines with 12 kills, making it the sixth player in school history to get 1,000 career kills. She also added 12 digs, three blocks, and a pair of service aces. Dorius added nine kills and Tanuvasa finished with eight kills. Hamson chipped six kills on a .625 hit to keep up with three blocks. Downs had five kills out of 0.556 hits, and Bishop added 11 digs that come with five assists. Abbie Miller finished with 14 assists, Natalie Palmer had 11 assists and Boyack had eight assists.
“We prepare with both the games and training every day and I think with these two wins the dynamics are enormous,” said coach Atoa. “As soon as we’ve found out who our opponent will be, we go back to the drawing board and think about what we have to do against our new opponent. It’s now about being the best team for the next three days and I like our chances. “
The Wolverines now travel Thursday through Saturday, June 18-20. November, for the WAC volleyball tournament in Las Cruces, NM. Matchups will be determined after the rest of the matches that will be played at the conference today.
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