In their home opener on Sept. 12, the Weber State University volleyball team lost 3–0 to Utah State University. The next night the Wildcats were able to rebound with a 3–1 victory over Utah Valley University.
Playing for the first time this season in front of their home crowd, the Wildcats hung with the Aggies, trading kill for kill before ultimately losing the first set 21–25.
Senior outside hitter Amanda Varley said, “I think my team came out really intense and hard from the beginning. We’ve been talking about that a lot in practices, coming out hard and intense and fighting from the beginning. I think that’s something that we did really well.”
Varley was a leader for the Wildcats on the court, finishing the night with 11 kills. On the court, she tried to remain focused on what she was doing without overthinking every action.
“We always talk about eating pizza and just ‘keep eating pizza,’ keep doing the same thing,” said Varley. “I don’t know stats, but I know if I’m feeling good then I just keep doing the same thing, stay in that groove and just keep chipping.”
The Aggies were able to use dominant point streaks of 4–0, 4–0 and 7–1 to defeat the ’Cats. While the first set was a balanced battle between two teams who seemed to be on equal footing, the second and third sets were easily handled by the Aggies.
Head coach Jeremiah Larsen said, “The first set was good, I thought we played hard. They made a couple plays more than us and so they win the first set, but after that our passing broke down, our consistency was just bad, we never really got comfortable with their reception. We didn’t serve the ball very well.”
For coach Larsen, the game against Utah State represented a return home, as he coached for the Aggies for four years before coming to WSU.
“I think the future is bright. We scheduled a really competitive non-conference schedule and so we’re ready to go attack,” Larsen said.
Coming off the loss to USU, Weber State ended up with their second win of the season the next night, defeating Utah Valley 3–1.
“We always get a little more emotional when we play in-state games, but for us, it’s just another chance to get better,” Larsen said.
The first set was tight early on, as the Wolverines led 6–4 before Weber State took a 13–9 lead. UVU eventually took a 24–23 lead on the Wildcats in the first set.
The Wildcats were able to rally and take the set 26–24 after a trio of kills — the first from Varley to tie the game and two from sophomore Megan Gneiting.
The Wildcats ended up emerging victorious in the second set by a score of 25–20. Going for a sweep of the Wolverines, Weber State fell behind early in the third set as Utah Valley took a quick 6–2 lead.
The Wildcats hung with the Wolverines for most of the set, but they ultimately fell 25–14, giving UVU their first set win of the match.
Holding the momentum after their previous set win, Utah Valley came out sharp in the fourth set, taking a quick 6–2 lead.
Weber State tied the score at 7–7 after a kill by sophomore middle blocker Aubrey Saunders. She led the Wildcats with 14 kills in the game.
“You just have to be in the mindset of being aggressive after every ball,” Saunders said.
The set and match ended on an attack error, giving the Wildcats a 25-23 victory.
Weber State finished the game with 51 team assists, their highest in a game this season.
Larsen said, “We had a couple of goals tonight. One was to pass the volleyball better and I think we did that.”
Weber State improved to 2–9 on the season with the victory, and will open up Big Sky conference play at Sacramento State on Sept. 21 in Sacramento.
“We just have to keep doing the exact same thing, and keep bringing the intensity,” said Gneiting.