Wolverines close regular season Thursday at New Mexico State

WOLVERINEGREENDOTCOM Freshman outside hitter Nakisha Willden
Freshman outside hitter Nakisha Willden

Nov. 20, 2013

UVU Match Notes | ESPN 3 | NM State Live Video | Live Stats

The Last Meeting
New Mexico State0
Utah Valley3
October 19, 2013
Orem, Utah
UVU sweeps NM State, leapfrogs Aggies in WAC standings
Utah Valley University grabbed its seventh WAC win with sweep of New Mexico State (25-16, 25-23, 25-18) Saturday night at the PE Building. The Wolverines got a career-high 13 kills from right side Cassie Wahlin while Lauren Stringham posted eight blocks.

OREM, Utah -The Utah Valley University volleyball team will close its regular season Thursday night in Las Cruces, N.M., with a big match against the first-place New Mexico State Aggies.

After dropping a five-set battle to Bakersfield last Saturday in the home finale, the Wolverines now need a win over NM State to finish the regular season in a tie for second place with the 'Runners in the WAC standings. With a loss to the Aggies, UVU will most likely finish in a tie for third place with Idaho depending on the outcome of the Vandals' Thursday night contest at Grand Canyon. Regardless of what place UVU finishes in, it has earned the three-seed for next week's WAC Tournament and will open play at the tournament on Monday against the No. 6 seed Seattle U.  

Thursday's match at NM State can be seen on ESPN3.com as well as NMStateSports.com. Live stats will also be available by visiting NMStateSports.comas well.

UVU will enter the season finale with an overall record of 18-13 and an 11-4 mark in its first season of play in the WAC. Prior to Saturday's loss to Bakersfield, the Wolverines had won five straight matches.

On Saturday, Utah Valley took the first set with ease over the Roadrunners, 25-9, and looked to be on its way to locking up the two-seed for the WAC Tournament but back came CSUB as it took the second, 25-23. The Wolverines then answered by winning set number three, 25-19, but Bakersfield struck right back by taking the fourth, 25-20. In the decisive fifth set, UVU held a 14-12 match-point advantage but CSUB rallied to score four consecutive points to take the final set, 16-14.

Despite suffering the defeat to Bakersfield, junior McKenna Taitbecame UVU's all-time leader in career service aces in the match and now has 140 for her career. With 52 aces this season, Tait not only leads the WAC but also ranks 15th nationally in that category (0.45 per set average).

Junior Cassie Wahlin and sophomore Lauren Stringham also had strong matches for the Wolverines against CSUB as Wahlin posted a new career-high with 15 kills and Stringham added her third double-double of the year with 11 kills and 10 blocks. Saturday's contest also marked Senior Night for UVU and seniors Brookelyn Hall and Katie Fritzlertoo played well in their final home match as the setter Hall put up 44 assists, seven digs, five kills and five blocks while the middle blocker Fritzler chipped in nine kills and five blocks.

On the season, junior Kalani Norrisleads Utah Valley in kills with 321 while Hall paces the squad in both attack percentage (.311) and assists (9.53 per set average). Stringham is tops on the club in blocks and ranks second in the WAC and 32nd nationally with a 1.32 per set average.

As a team, UVU ranks third in the WAC in blocks (2.44 per set average), aces (1.28 per set average) and opponent hitting percentage (.187).

About New Mexico State
The Aggies have locked up the regular season WAC Championship and the one-seed for next week's tournament with a 19-10 overall record and a 13-2 league record. NM State has not played a WAC match since Nov. 9 when they swept Chicago State. Thursday's match will also mark the season finale for New Mexico State and the Aggies will enter the contest on an eight-match winning streak.

Senior Desiree Scott, the reigning WAC Player of the Week, leads the Aggies in blocks (1.28 per set average), kills (274), kill per set average (2.58) and hitting percentage (.358). Fellow senior Lauren Loerch is right behind her in kills as she averages 2.52 per set while senior Ciara Brown leads the way in assists with a 5.70 per set average.

Thursday's contest will mark the second all-time meeting between UVU and NM State and the Wolverines will be looking for the season sweep after they previously handed the Aggies their last conference loss of the season on Oct. 19 in Orem. In that contest, Utah Valley swept New Mexico State, 25-16, 25-23, 25-18.

Up Next for the Wolverines
UVU will head to the WAC Tournament for the first time in program history next week. The tournament will be held Nov. 25-27 at the GCU Arena in Phoenix, Ariz. The Wolverines will open the tournament on Monday at 5 p.m. against the Seattle U. The winner of the contest will then take on the two-seed Bakersfield on Tuesday at 5 p.m. The team that wins the tourney will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. For ticket information please visit GCUArena.com and for more information on the WAC Tournament please visit WACSports.com.