The Southern Utah University volleyball team hosted their last two home games of the season against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Utah Tech University. They fell 3-1 to the UTRGV Vaqueros but held on to defeat Utah Tech 3-2.
As soon as set one began, UTRGV came out with some heat and started with an 8-1 run before SUU scored three points in a row. After a few back-and-forth volleys, the Vaqueros upped the stakes by scoring nine consecutive points, ultimately defeating the Thunderbirds 25-13.
After UTRGV established themselves in SUU’s home court, set two was a bit more interesting. To start things off, SUU came through by scoring the first point of the set. The two teams clashed back and forth for the majority of the set until the Thunderbirds went on a late 5-0 run to boost them to a 28-26 set win.
As the third set began, the two teams were tied with one set each. Just like the last set, the two teams continued to rally and trade three-point runs for the majority of the set. It was close all the way until the very end when UTRGV ultimately won with a 25-21 score.
With the Vaqueros now being ahead by one set, the odds were pointing to them beating Southern Utah on their own court. Set four was the closest of them all. The teams exchanged points until it ended with a 28-26 victory for UTRGV, which led them to win the game. The win improved the Vaqueros to 16-11 overall.
Having swept Southern Utah in their last meeting, the Utah Tech Trailblazers entered the America First Event Center on Monday night expecting an easy win. Not only did the Thunderbirds give them more than they bargained for, they came away with a five-set victory.
Utah Tech started by earning the first three points, but a 7-1 run by SUU quickly put them on top. Southern Utah led by as much as five before the Trailblazers came back and ultimately took the 26-24 first-set win. Fourteen errors, seven of them being attack errors, brought Southern Utah down and let Utah Tech capitalize off the poor play.
The Thunderbirds came out strong to start the second set. It stayed that way until they were up 14-7, then momentum shifted. UT scored seven straight points to tie up the score. A short 4-0 run by Southern Utah gave them the upper hand, and they carried it to a 25-22 win to tie the match at one set apiece. Hana Makonova and Spasojevic combined for 10 kills for the Thunderbirds, giving the team a nice offensive edge.
The third set stayed relatively close until the Trailblazers had a steady streak and found themselves leading 23-16. In a last-minute effort, SUU managed to score three straight points, but they still fell 25-19. Marley Roe contributed seven assists to her fellow Trailblazers, helping them to a match-high 15 kills in the set.
Nearing defeat, SUU needed the fourth-set win to keep the match going. They did just that with a 25-22 score after a late 5-0 run kept them in the game. The Thunderbirds had three service aces in the set, two by Allison Rohrer and one by Natasha Obradovic. Makonova brought the heat once again by spiking six kills.
The final set was Southern Utah’s from the start. They took off by scoring the first six points and never let Utah Tech cut the lead to under four points. The 15-9 set win completed the match victory and snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Thunderbirds. Charlotte Wilson stole the spotlight with six kills and finished the night just one kill shy of her single-game high of 13.
The Thunderbirds are now 6-18 overall and 2-12 in conference play, putting them last in the standings. The Trailblazers fell to 8-16 overall and 4-10 in conference play.
Southern Utah has two more games remaining with the next taking place on Nov. 9 at Utah Valley University at 6 p.m. in Orem. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.
Authors: Anden Garfield and Dylan Dalton
Photographer: Anden Garfield
Editor: Anden Garfield