Volleyball loses in five to UVU

Weber State University volleyball has and will continue to be busy. Last weekend, the team started conference play on a road trip to Eastern Washington University and Portland State University. On Tuesday it played Utah Valley University; the game went into five sets.

The team is still winless, but has been improving, head coach Tom Peterson said.

“We are not what our record indicates,” he said.

EWU beat the Wildcats in straight sets with scores of 25-16, 25-18 and 25-22. Bethany Wray had the high in kills that game with 13. Shelby Earl and Wray had the highest digs, contributing seven each.

EWU’s Shelby Puckett was the high killer with 13, but Cora Kellerman was close behind with 12. EWU had a total of 48 kills, while WSU had only 29. Despite the win, EWU had 16 errors against WSU’s 10.

WSU’s performance was equally shabby against PSU. Mackenzie Clark had the high with seven kills. PSU’s Megan Ellis had nine kills and Nicole Bateham had 19 digs. The teams were close in errors, with WSU having 16 and PSU having 14.

The game against UVU hit a little close to home for Wray, as she was playing against one of her longtime friends, Erica Nish. Nish and Wray played together at Rocky Mountain Junior High School, as well as at Fremont High School, for a total of six years.

“Obviously it’s super competitive, but seeing her across the net is fun because we are still friends,” Wray said.

Nish said it’s exciting to play against an old friend at the collegiate level.

“I still get really excited for her when she does something good,” Nish said. “It is hard to play against each other because we have played together for so long, but it’s still really fun because we are such good friends.”

WSU showed improvement in the match against UVU. WSU has not won a set since it played Utah State University on Sept. 6, 2011, which makes six matches with no wins. It won the second and fourth sets against UVU, getting an early lead on the Wolverines in the second and coming from behind in the fourth.

Mental improvements are what has made the team’s performances improve from this week to the last, Peterson said.

“It is mostly mental for us,” he said. “We decided to compete and compete for longer periods of time. We came out prepared, and we did it throughout a longer match.”

Although the Wildcats won the two sets, the overall victory went to UVU. UVU’s Jaicee Kuresa had 17 kills. Chelsey Heaps and Nish added 13 kills. UVU had a combined effort of 61 kills. Wray achieved a double-double with 18 kills and 12 digs. WSU’s combined kill effort added up to 51. UVU had 26 errors and WSU had 33. WSU also had nine serving aces.

On UVU’s side of the court, Nish said, the team was just having fun, and that is what helped them rebound to get the victory.

“We really like having fun,” Nish said. “When we concentrate on what we are doing rather than what the other team is going to do, we do a lot better, and that’s what we ended up doing.”

The game against UVU was sophomore outside hitter Piper Whalin’s first night back. She has been out all season with a back injury and has been unable to play after starting last year.

“Piper really added to ball control and our passing tonight,” Peterson said. “It’s great to know that she can do that for us.”

The Wildcats will be heading to Idaho State University on Friday night for their third game in conference play.

“Idaho State is a hard gym to play in,” Wray said. “I think that it’s important to do the little things and get them perfect to be able to succeed in that gym.”

The team will be back at the Swenson Gym on Oct. 1, 2011 to play California State University, Sacramento.