LARAMIE, Wyo. – Utah Valley completed an epic five-set (11-25, 28-26, 23-25, 25-22, 21-19) victory over host Wyoming to pick up its first-ever postseason victory in the first round of the NIVC Thursday. With the win, the Wolverines advance to face Portland in the second round at 6:30 p.m. MT Friday.
Utah Valley was able to pull off the win despite being beaten by the Cowgirls in nearly every statistical category. Wyoming had a better hitting percentage (.201 to .129) and more kills (71-66), assists (63-62) and digs (90-89). The Wolverines edged Wyoming in blocks (17.0-15.5) and weren't called for any ball handling errors while the Cowgirls were called for four. Wyoming also had one more service error (5-4) than Utah Valley.
Utah Valley freshman Kazna Tarawhiti led all players with 22 kills to go with 17 digs for her ninth double-double of the season. Kristen Allred added 13 kills and Jasmin Niutupuivaha finished with 10 for the Wolverines.
Both Utah Valley setters posted double-doubles. Madi Wardle finished with 27 assists and 14 digs, while BriAnne Mortensen tallied 33 assists and 11 digs. Mikaila Jarema led all players with 10 blocks and libero Seren Merrill had a match-high 25 digs.
After Wyoming dominated the first set, Utah Valley came back in the second to pull out a 28-26 victory by out-blocking the Cowgirls 9-4.
Wyoming won the third set and led 18-15 in the fourth set when the Wolverines used a 7-4 run to tie it at 22 before scoring the final three points of the set to force a fifth.
In the fifth set, both teams battled back and forth with neither team ever leading by more than three points. Utah Valley had match point first at 14-13, but the teams would then trade points with Wyoming having match point four times and Utah Valley two more times before it finally scored three in a row to secure the victory.