TUCSON, Ariz. - After defeating Cal State Northridge in four sets earlier in the day (19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 26-24), the Utah Valley University women's volleyball team dropped a four-set affair to Evansville (23-25, 22-25, 29-27, 20-25) as the Wolverines (1-1) opened the 2012 season Friday with a split at the Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Ariz.
"In the first match today we did a better job passing the ball and we were able to execute when we needed to," UVU women's volleyball coach Sam Atoa said. "In this second match we kind of played catch-up and our offense really struggled. When we had opportunities we just didn't respond as well as we could've."
In the opener against CSUN (0-1), UVU junior Lindsay Morrell led the offense by posting a double-double with a career-high 17 kills and 10 digs, while Arizona native and fellow junior Brookelyn Hall added a double-double of her own for the Wolverines with a match-high 42 assists and 12 digs. Junior Patti Hatch led the back row with 14 digs and junior Katie Fritzler was second on the club in kills with eight.
After dropping the first set to Cal State Northridge by six points, the Wolverines came out and looked determined in the second one as they took a 10-6 advantage after a kill from freshman Bailey Farris. The Matadors later pulled within one a couple of times, but UVU managed to weather the storm as it went on to take the set, 25-21. Morrell led the Wolverines in the set with four kills, while sophomore McKenna Tait and freshmen Lauren Stringham and Farris tallied three kills apiece.
The third set stayed close in the beginning as it saw six early ties, but the Wolverines once again managed to pull ahead when Tait delivered one of her seven kills to give UVU a 14-10 advantage. The Wolverines built to their lead from there and took an eight-point advantage at set point after Morrell added one of her match-high 17 kills. Three points later UVU took the set 25-18 and a 2-1 lead.
Utah Valley held a five-point lead at 14-9 midway through the fourth set, but the Matadors scored the next four points to pull within one. CSUN jumped ahead and later took a 21-17 lead after a Wolverine attack error. The Matadors then held a 24-20 set-point advantage, but a kill from Farris sparked a six consecutive point rally in which UVU came from behind to take the match in four sets. Morrell and Fritzler also added kills during the impressive stretch by the Wolverines, while CSUN committed three large attack errors.
Cal State Northridge, a team that was picked to finish third in the Big West Preseason Poll, was led in the match by Natalie Allen and her double-double of 14 kills and 11 digs.
Against Evansville (1-1), UVU fell behind two sets to none, as the Wolverines dropped the first set by just two points and the second by three.
The Wolverines then fell behind 10-3 early on in the third set, but Utah Valley battled back and pulled within one after six straight points. Morrell and Fritzler sparked the rally as Morrell added two kills and a block assist while Fritzler had two block assists of her own and a kill.
The third set stayed close from there until the Purple Aces, of the Missouri Valley Conference, worked a four-point lead, at 17-13. A service ace from Hatch and two UE errors helped the Wolverines make it a one-point game at 17-16. The Wolverines then managed to take a late lead at 21-20 after a kill from Hall. The set went back and forth from there until Morrell and Fritzler teamed up for a block to give UVU a one-point advantage. Morrell then finished the set for UVU with an ace to give the Wolverines the 29-27 victory.
UVU started the fourth set right where it left off in the third, as it jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead. Evansville battled back, however, and tied it up at 9-9. UE continued to have the momentum from there as it built a seven-point lead at 21-14. The Wolverines then rolled off four consecutive points to pull within three, but the Purple Aces were too much as they went on to take the set 25-20 and the match 3-1.
Despite the loss, sophomore McKenna Tait led UVU with her first collegiate double-double of 10 kills and team-high 18 digs. Fritzler followed with nine kills and team-high five block assists, while Hall added her second straight double-double of the young season with 43 assists and 14 digs. Hall also added five kills, four block assists and an ace as she filled out the stat sheet.
Evansville's Ashley Ring led the Purple Aces with a match-high 19 kills, 15 digs and three service aces.
The Wolverines will wrap-up the Wildcat Classic by taking on host Arizona Saturday at 8 p.m. MDT. The contest will mark the first-ever meeting between UVU and the U of A on the volleyball court.
"Arizona's a good team and we need to come out tomorrow and win the battle at the net," Atoa said.
Box Score vs. Cal State Northridge
Box Score vs. Evansville
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com