FRESNO, Calif. - After sweeping Sacramento State earlier in the day, the Utah Valley University volleyball team concluded the Fresno State Classic with a five-set come-from-behind victory over Fresno State Saturday at the Save Mart Center (25-21, 18-25, 15-25, 25-17, 15-11). The victory gave the Wolverines a 2-1 record at the tournament this weekend and improved their season mark to 4-4.
McKenna Tait led the way for UVU with a career and match-high 17 kills. She also tallied her second double-double in as many days as she added 11 digs. Erica Nish also notched double figures in the kills for the match as she recorded a season-high 13 kills, while Lauren Stringham came up huge from the net with a season-high 11 block assists, a solo block and nine kills. Setter Brookelyn Hall too produced another double-double with 44 assists and 10 digs and Patti Hatch secured the back row with a team-high 14 digs and a service ace.
"We did a great job of putting together a game plan that we stuck with. At certain times we didn't do as well as we would've like, but we executed when it mattered and especially in the fifth set," said Wolverine volleyball coach Sam Atoa.
Hall and Hatch were named to the All-Tournament Team for UVU after Hall finished with 102 assists (7.85 assist/set average), 31 digs, 13 kills, nine block assists, a solo block and five service aces for the weekend, while Hatch recorded 42 digs (3.23 dig/set average).
"The girls all played great but Brookelyn and Patti were also consistent and were able to keep us where we needed to be," added Atoa. "I was happy for them and I was happy for our team for playing a great tournament."
A service ace from Hall and a kill from Katie Fritzler
helped the Wolverines jump out to an early 4-0 lead in the opening set. The Bulldogs (5-4) then pulled within a point after scoring four of the next five points to make it a 5-4 score.
With Fresno State later leading the first set 17-16, Utah Valley scored seven unanswered points to take a commanding 23-17 advantage. Stringham led the way during the rally by pounding home two kills as well as adding a block assist. Bailey Farris helped the Wolverines finish off the set a couple points later with a kill of her own. Tait led UVU in the opening set with four kills, while Stringham added two kills of her own and four block assists.
The Bulldogs bounced back in the second set as they quickly took a six-point lead, at 10-4. The Wolverines got back in the frame by scoring nine of the next 12 points to tie the score at 13-all. After a kill from Farris retied the set at 16-16, Fresno State took control by scoring nine of the next 11 points to take the frame and tie the match at 1-1.
In the third set, UVU stayed close with Fresno State in the beginning. The Bulldogs then pulled ahead in the middle of the frame as they built a 16-9 advantage. The Wolverines tried to comeback but the deficit was too large as Fresno State took 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-15 win.
In a must win fourth set, the Wolverines took a 9-8 lead after back-to-back kills from Tait and an ace from Patti Hatch. UVU extended its lead to 15-10 after a couple more kills and an ace from Tait. The Wolverines ran away with the set from there as they took the frame by a score of 25-17 to force a winner-take-all fifth set. Nish led UVU in the set with five kills, while Tait added four. The Wolverines also outhit the Bulldogs .353 to .154 in the frame.
Utah Valley took the upper hand in the fifth set as it erupted out to a large 10-2 lead over the home team. Nish and Stringham sparked the key run for the Wolverines, as Nish had two kills and a block assist and Stringham had two block assists and a solo block. The Bulldogs tried to stage a late comeback as they pulled within three, at 14-11, but UVU put the match away the very next point on a kill from Tait.
In the match UVU recorded 16 team blocks compared to just nine by Fresno State.
Megan Callahan and Maci Murdock led the Bulldogs on the night as they each recorded 15 kills.
The Wolverines will return to the state of Utah and will conclude play at the Utah Classic in Salt Lake City on Sept. 14 with matches against Nevada and Cal Poly. UVU faced the Utes on Aug. 28 and dropped the opener of that tournament in straight sets.
Fresno State Classic All-Tournament Team
Barbara Alcantara - Fresno State
Devon Damelio - UC Davis
Victoria Lee - UC Davis
Janelle Currey - Sacramento State
Kiley Mansfield - Sacramento State
Brookelyn Hall -Utah Valley
Patti Hatch - Utah Valley
MVP - Allison Whitson - UC Davis