UVU closes Wolverine Classic with 3-1 loss to Utah

WOLVERINEGREENDOTCOM Lauren Stringham was named to the all-tournament team after a 10 kill, seven block performance Saturday
Lauren Stringham was named to the all-tournament team after a 10 kill, seven block performance Saturday

Sept. 14, 2013

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OREM, Utah -- Utah Valley University fell 3-1 (19-25, 21-25, 29-27, 15-25) to the University of Utah in the final match of the Wolverine Classic at the PE Building Saturday night.

Behind a seven-kill third set, Kalani Norris paced UVU with a match-high 14 kills on the night. Macky Treanor turned in 13 more while Lauren Stringham, who was named to the all-tournament team, added 10 kills as well as seven blocks.

Brookelyn Hall also earned all-tournament honors behind a 39-assist effort Saturday night.

"In the first three sets we gave ourselves chances," said UVU head coach Sam Atoa, whose team kept things tight with the unbeaten Utes throughout the match. "Any time we keep in the system it helps us to be able to battle and keep things close. We were unable to sustain in the fourth set the things we did so well in the first three, though. We made a few too many errors that cost us an opportunity to keep up with them."

In the third set of a match that featured 32 ties and eight lead changes, Utah Valley (2-8) and Utah (10-0) could find little separation as the two squads sat on a 16-16 tie in the middle of the third frame. A 4-0 run, featuring a pair of kills from Treanor, another from Katie Fritlzer, and a McKenna Tait service ace, put the Wolverines in a great position to take a set at 20-16. But back came the Utes, using a 5-0 surge to suddenly reclaim the lead and the momentum.

Faced with 23-21 deficit, UVU got back-to-back kills from Kalani Norris to restore a level, 23-23 score line, and two points later. Norris was instrumental in the third frame, posting a set-high seven kills plus a block assist. The two sides continued to trade points, running things all the way to 27-27, but a kill from Treanor and a combined block Fritzler and Cassie Wahlin gave the Wolverines a 29-27 victory in a third set marathon.

"I was pleased with our effort and motivation tonight," added Atoa. "Coming off the two earlier losses, we were entering a difficult situation but we were able to make a bit of a turnaround and give ourselves some positives to build off of."

That frame was all UVU could claim, however, as Utah settled the match with a 25-15 win in set four. The Wolverines held a 7-5 lead early on, but lost traction on a 6-0 Utah run that contained five UVU errors. The Utes came away with six team blocks in the decisive set, stifling the Wolverine attack at the net.

With the win, Utah went a perfect 3-0 at the Wolverine Classic to claim the tournament championship. Erin Redd-Brandon took home tournament MVP honors after a double-double on Saturday night: 12 kills to go along with a remarkable 12 total blocks. Bailey Bateman also had 12 kills and Makenzie Moea'i added 11.

The match also featured a familial element as it UVU assistant coach Lacee Jones sat on the opposite bench as her husband, Utah volleyball director of operations Daniel Jones.

Utah took set one, but had to shake itself loose of UVU midway through the frame. The two teams played basically even early on, the difference being a brief 4-0 run pieced together by the Utes that broke a 12-12 tie. That spurt grew to 9-3 as the Wolverines fell behind 21-15 and simply could not recover, dropping the frame 19-25.

Treanor and Norris each had three kills in the frame, but UVU was unable to control the net as it finished with a .094 attack percentage. Meanwhile, Utah swung at .231 percent and posted 4.5 total team blocks.

In set two, the Wolverines enjoyed an early 6-2 advantage, but the Utes answered with a 9-1 run. Suddenly trailing 15-11, UVU found its rhythm again, reeling off four straight points to pull back level. Powering the run were kills from Stringham and Treanor alongside a pair of Ute attack errors.

But as the set continued back-and-forth, things swung the way of Utah when it mattered most. Three consecutive points broke a 16-all tie, and although the Wolverines got within one on a pair of occasions down the stretch, the Utes never relinquished their late lead to go two sets up.

Stringham led the way for UVU with six kills while Tait turned in a nice defensive effort on a set-high six digs. She would finish the match with 17 digs, tying the Wolverines' individual season-high.

Having opened the season with seven of its first ten matches at home, Utah Valley now embarks on a season-long, six-match road swing. The Wolverines are back in action Tuesday when they visit Weber State in Ogden, then maneuver to the Air Force Invitational for three matches next weekend. From there, UVU opens the WAC slate with three straight on the road. Utah Valley will return home Oct. 3 for its first home conference match against Kansas City.

2013 Wolverine Classic All-Tournament Team
Brookelyn Hall - Utah Valley
Lauren Stringham - Utah Valley
Tress Lyman - Idaho State
Makenzie Filer - Idaho State
Aly Squires - UC Irvine
Danielle Bubica - UC Irvine
Chelsey Schofield - Utah
Morgan Odale - Utah
MVP - Erin Redd-Brandon - Utah