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Utah Valley volleyball rallies to top Dixie State in five sets

By Daily Herald - | Oct 15, 2021

The UVU volleyball team celebrates a point during a match at Dixie State on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. (UVU Courtesy Photo)

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Kalea Kennedy’s career night led a furious comeback as Utah Valley rallied to defeat in-state rival Dixie State, 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 15-13) on the road at the America First Event Center. With the win in the Old Hammer Rivalry, the Wolverines improve to 9-8 on the season, including 4-2 in the WAC, extending its win streak to four matches. The Trailblazers fall to 4-10 on the year and 3-3 in conference play.

“It was a great win tonight especially with a hostile crowd,” said Utah Valley head volleyball coach, Sam Atoa. “I was proud of they kept their poise and fought through certain challenges tonight. We didn’t hit very well early in the match but I was proud of how they took control when it mattered most. I was very happy with Sadie and Kalea’s hitting, as well Bryton’s defense. It was a great team effort.”

Both teams traded points to start the match before an 8-3 run by the Wolverines opened up an 12-7 advantage. The Trailblazers roared back with a 14-2 surge to take control of the first set, 21-14. Kennedy led a spirited comeback as UVU used an 8-1 run to tie the set up at 22-22, but DSU finished it off scoring three of the final four points to take the opening set, 25-23.

Dixie State got off to a quick start in the second set before Sadie Hamson helped push the Wolverines up, 6-5. Neither team would pull away in the set as the lead was never more than three points. DSU used a 5-1 run to go up 22-20 but Kazna Tanuvasa and Kennedy helped the Wolverines score the final five points of the set, giving UVU a 25-22 win to tie the match up at 1-1.

The Trailblazers took an early 8-5 lead but Hamson led Utah Valley on a 5-0 run to retake the lead, 10-8. After a 4-1 run by Dixie State, Kennedy sparked a 7-2 surge to put the Wolverines up, 18-14. DSU countered with a 5-1 run to tie the set up at 19-19 but UVU responded with three-straight points to go up, 22-19. The Trailblazers stormed back, scoring six of the final seven points of the set to take the set, 25-23, pushing the Wolverines to the brink, 2-1.

Tanuvasa took over early in the fourth set, leading UVU to an early 7-1 advantage. After Dixie State trim the lead to three points, Tanuvasa and Kennedy led a dominating 13-5 run to extend the Utah Valley lead to 24-13. DSU scored three-straight points but the Wolverines finished the set off, 25-16, tying the match up at 2-2.

Dixie State quickly took a 6-2 lead in the deciding set, but Tanuvasa and Kristen Bell sparked a 10-3 run to help UVU retake the lead, 12-9. The Wolverines were able to hold from there as Tanuvasa knocked home the final kill to give Utah Valley the set win, 15-13, to take the set 3-2.

Tanuvasa led the Wolverines with 15 kills to go along with seven digs. Kennedy set a career-high with 14 kills while Bell tallied a double-double with 12 kills, 16 digs, and a pair of aces. Bryton Bishop led UVU defense, nearly setting a career high with 25 digs and five assists while Hamson had a team-high five blocks to go along with nine kills. Abbie Miller finished with 30 assists and five digs and Natalie Palmer had a double-double with 15 assists, a career-high 15 digs, and three aces. Abbie Vincent had a season-high 10 digs and a pair of aces.

The Wolverines return home to Lockhart Arena as Utah Valley faces off with Dixie State again on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 1:00 p.m. MT. The Wolverines then hit the road for a pair of neutral-site matches with WAC-newcomers Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston on Oct. 22-23 in Phoenix, Ariz.

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