LAS CRUCES, N.M.—For the third time this season, Utah Valley and CSU Bakersfield played five volleyball sets and for the third time this season UVU edged CSUB as the Wolverines handed the Roadrunners a 3-2 loss in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament Friday night in the Pan American Center.
The Roadrunners scored four of the first five points and led 8-7 before the Wolverines rattled off three in a row. UVU increased the lead to 11-8 before the Roadrunners came back to take a 12-11 lead. Utah Valley bounced back to take a 15-13 advantage into the media timeout. Trailing by three, the Roadrunners scored three straight to tie it at 16 and force a UVU timeout.
The set was tied at 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22. The ‘Runners went up 23-22 when Sydney Haynes recorded a kill. A Sidney Wicks service ace made it set point. A Carol Grasso solo block on Madison Dennison put the Roadrunners up 1-0 in the match 25-22.
CSUB started strong again in the second set, taking a 6-2 lead on a Jocelyn Rodriguez service ace. The timeout halted the Roadrunner momentum, as the Wolverines five of the next nine to get back into it. A pair of Haynes kills led to three in a row for the Roadrunners as CSUB increased the lead to five. With the ‘Runners leading 13-8, Utah Valley used their height advantage to post two blocks and climb back in with three straight points.
CSU Bakersfield called timeout which resulted in the teams trading the next 10 points. Trailing 19-17, UVU scored four in row. Marina Sanches halted the momentum with a kill as CSUB would get it back to one, 22-21. A Roadrunner service error returned the serve for UVU. The ‘Runners again cut it to one on a block from Katie Dunbar-Lowe and Kortney Freeland. Alexis Davies came out of a Utah Valley timeout with a kill. On set point, a block from Sierra Starley and Madison Dennison tied the match, 25-22.
The third set began with three ties. At 3-3, three consecutive Roadrunner hitting errors helped the Wolverines (16-13) get out to a 7-3 advantage. The UVU scoring spurt would end up being 10-1 as the ‘Runners committed six hitting errors during the span. Utah Valley would hit .321 and coast to a 25-17 third set victory.
Three Grasso kills and a block helped CSUB start the fourth set on a 4-1 run. Grasso registered five kills to provide the ‘Runners a 7-4 lead. Utah Valley fired back, scoring three straight to tie it at seven. At 8-8, Haynes keyed an 8-0 run by posting two kills and three blocks.
Down 18-10, Utah Valley mounted a 11-3 charge that was capped off by a CSUB service error that cut it to one. Sanches’ kill provided CSUB with a side out. A Haynes kill stretched the score to 23-20. Freeland recorded a solo block against Taylor Brighton for four set points. Grasso sent the match to the fifth with a kill (25-20).
The fifth set began with a Grasso kill before a CSUB service error returned serve to UVU. Dennison and Lexi Thompson blocked Grasso to put the Wolverines into the lead. Grasso again posted a kill to tie the set. CSUB took a 3-2 lead when Haynes and Sanches blocked Dennison. Utah Valley went right back to Thompson who put down a kill and tied the score.
Haynes’ hitting error returned the advantage to the Wolverines. UVU went up two when Grasso committed a hitting error. Sanches registered a kill to side out for the Roadrunners. Kiahna Vernon again created a two-point lead with a kill for Utah Valley. CSUB called timeout at 7-4 when Jocelyn Rodriguez was credited with a hitting error.
Out of the timeout, CSUB scored on a Sanches kill. Haynes and Dunbar-Lowe were credited with block assists on a Vernon attempt. The Wolverines got the ball right back when Sierra Stanley had a kill. Lindsey Tagge’s service error provided the ‘Runners with a point. UVU went to Vernon on the outside for a kill and a 9-7 score. Freeland’s hitting error put CSUB down by three as the ‘Runners called timeout.
Thompson’s kill followed by a Dunbar-Lowe hitting error created a 12-7 score. Taylor and Thompson blocked Grasso before a Dunbar-Lowe kill got CSUB back on serve. Thompson’s hitting error came before an Addy Peters ace for a 13-10 score. UVU called timeout and would get on match point when Peters committed the 13th Roadrunner service error of the match (against seven service aces). Grasso kept the ‘Runners alive with a kill followed by setter Fabiana Andrade who went on two from Peters for a kill. The Wolverines called timeout and took the match 15-12 when Thompson posted a kill.
Grasso ended her senior campaign with 16th double-double. The 5-6 outside hitter put up 22 kills and 12 digs for CSUB (14-15). Haynes charted 12 kills and six blocks. Andrade dished out 35 assists and added seven digs. Vernon had the most kills for Utah Valley with 14. Thompson had 11 kills while Dennison chipped in with 10.
“I am not happy with the way the match ended, but I am proud of the way we battled,” said CSUB director of volleyball Giovana Melo. “We never backed down!”