OREM – The Utah Valley Wolverines will be dancing for the first time in its volleyball history. UVU punched its ticket to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament in Omaha with a sweep of New Mexico State, 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-23) in Lockhart Arena. With its first WAC Volleyball Tournament championship, the Wolverines will make its first-ever appearance in the Big Dance.
With the win, UVU enters the NCAA tournament with a 14-5 record on the season. New Mexico State’s season comes to an end with a 16-2 record, with both losses coming to the Wolverines in Orem. The sweep marks the first time the Aggies have been swept since losing to BYU, 3-0, in the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 6, 2018.
Seren Jardine was named WAC Volleyball Tournament MVP and Jardine and Kazna Tanuvasa were named to the All-Tournament team.
After both teams exchanged the first seven points of the match, New Mexico State was able to capture an early 8-6 advantage. UVU used a 3-1 run to tie the set back up at 9-9, but the Aggies responded with back to back points to regain the lead, 13-11. Tori Dorius got the Wolverines going, sparking a 4-0 run to give Utah Valley a 15-13 lead going into the media timeout. After exchanging points, NMSU went on a 5-1 run to retake the lead, 19-17. A pair of Kaili Downs kills jumpstarted the Wolverines and Tanuvasa finished it off as UVU ended the set on an 8-2 run to take the opening set, 25-21.
The Wolverines raced out to an early 7-3 lead in the second set behind a flurry of Tanuvasa kills. The Aggies came storming with a 7-2 run to take a 10-9 advantage. After a pair of UVU points, NM State ripped off another 7-2 run to extend its lead out to 17-13. The Wolverines responded with a 5-1 surge to tie the set back up at 18-18. With NMSU up 20-18, Kristen Bell took over as she scored four of the Wolverines final seven points, sparking a 7-2 run to give UVU the set, 25-22.
Both teams battled back and forth to start the third set as UVU held a 7-5 lead. NMSU countered with a 4-0 run to take a 9-7 lead but Utah Valley responded with three straight points to regain the lead, 10-9. After exchanging points, UVU used a 6-2 run to create some separation, 19-15. After a pair of Aggie points, Sadie Hamson led the Wolverines on a 3-1 run to put UVU ahead 22-18. NM State made a final push, using a 5-1 surge to tie the set up at 23-23. The Wolverines held strong, as Bell and Tanuvasa made the final kills to give UVU the set, 25-23, to complete the sweep.
Jardine led the Wolverine defense with 19 digs as Tanuvasa led the UVU attack with 13 kills on an impressive .394 hitting percentage. Downs added nine kills and Dorius chipped in eight kills. Jaysa Funk Stratton finished with 20 assists to go along with seven digs and Abbie Miller added 14 helpers.
The Wolverines head to the bubble in Omaha, Neb. and await the decision on its opponent. The Selection Show will be broadcasted at 2:00 p.m. MT on ESPNU. The first round of the NCAA tournament will begin on Wednesday, April 14.