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Wolverines Fend Off Highlanders, Take Match in Five
Oct. 20, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. - Utah Valley survived a road scare on Thursday night in Newark, N.J. by holding on to defeat NJIT in five sets (25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-7). The win upped the Wolverines record to 16-7 overall and 5-1 in conference play, while the loss dropped the Highlanders to 7-14 (2-4 GWC).
"Playing here at NJIT was a challenge for us tonight," Wolverine head coach Sam Atoa said. "As much as we struggled offensively all match long, the girls responded in the fifth set and hit the ball the way that we expected they would. I'm happy with how we came out and competed in the final set because our backs were against the wall."
Senior Sarah Clement led UVU in the victory with a new career-high of 16 kills. She also hit team-best .382 and added eight blocks. Fellow senior Rachel Anderson added a career-best 30 assists, while senior Chelsey Heaps also notched another double-double in the win with 12 kills and 17 digs. Freshman Kalani Norris added a season-high nine kills for UVU in the win.
"We needed every bit of what Sarah (Clement) did," Atoa added. "I was really pleased with the way that she played. Chelsey's (Heaps) offensive game struggled but her defensive effort was really great for us. Kalani (Norris) did a nice job coming off of the bench and Rachel (Anderson) too played very well in the three sets she started."
The Wolverines jumped out to a 1-0 set advantage after outlasting the Highlanders by four points in the opener. The set stayed tight until UVU jumped ahead by four following a freshman Cassie Wahlin kill. A Highlander ball-handling error later gave the Wolverines their largest lead of the set at 19-14. Clement then added two of her set-high five kills down the stretch to help UVU take the opener.
The second and fourth sets were different stories however as the home Highlanders pulled them out. NJIT took the tightly contested second frame 25-23 and the not as closely contested fourth one 25-19.
In between the two sets that NJIT won, UVU controlled the third set by winning it by five points. The Wolverines led early in the frame and responded late after a Highlander rally to come back and get the set victory. UVU took the third set down the stretch thanks to a late 5-1 spurt. Senior Jaicee Kuresa had three kills during the run.
After dropping the fourth set the Wolverines looked determined in the fifth one by jumping out to a commanding 12-3 advantage. UVU ended up holding onto its large lead by taking the final and decisive set by eight points. Heaps had three kills in the frame, while Clement and Norris added two apiece.
The Wolverines will now travel to the Windy City to play its final conference road contest of the season Saturday at Chicago State at 12 p.m. MT.