Rebels Zig Past Zags In Title Match
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The Rebel volleyball team (6-3) claimed the UNLV Classic tournament title behind a perfect 3-0 record, which included a 3-1 win in the championship match against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (5-4) on Saturday night. UNLV, who lost the first set of the match, rallied for a victory behind set scores of 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19.
UNLV was led by a double-double from Kinsey Caldwell, who combined 46 assists with 10 digs to achieve the feat. Caldwell also had two kills and two assisted blocks, which helped her nab a spot on the all-tournament team.
Candice Thomas, who was named the all-tournament MVP, and Madeline Westman, an all-tourney member, led the Rebels on both sides of the net. Thomas threw down a team-best 16 kills of .364 hitting, while Westman followed closely behind with 15 of her own and a match-high .423 hitting efficiency. On defense, the duo combined for 14 of the team's blocks with Thomas stuffing eight of Gonzaga's attempts (one solo), while Westman had four solo and two assisted putbacks.
The Rebel back row came up large, as well, with 63 digs led by 15 from Allison Davies. In all, four different players notched 10 or more digs with Daryn Glenn (12 digs), Sekola Falemaka (11) and Caldwell (10) joining the fray.
UNLV out-hit Gonzaga .242 to .164 with a nine-kill advantage (59-50) off nine more swings (153-146). The home squad's best hitting efforts came in the middle frames with a .483 clip in the second and a .317 in the third. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, hit in the .100s the first two stanzas (.195 and .152) before racking up a .333 in a third-set loss. They hit a paltry .000 in the fourth and final fifth set.
The Bulldogs got a match-high 21 kills from Savannah Blinn, who had an astonishing 52 swings in the loss. Mengya and Lauren Joseph split the setting duties with the former dishing out 22 to the latter's 20. Kristina Lavrisha had a match-best 17 digs, while Deanna Nielson had 12 of her own.
UNLV's Stephanie Thelen rounded out the Rebels that made up the seven-person all-tournament team. Gonzaga contributed two, Blinn and Kylie Edinger, while Texas Southern's Mona Reed rounded out the squad.
UNLV returns to action next weekend in a tournament hosted by the University of Louisville in Kentucky. The Rebels will open with Miami (Fla.) on Friday, Sept. 14 at 2:00 pm PT before playing a pair on Saturday, Sept. 15 - Louisville (8:00 am PT) and Middle Tennessee State (2:00 pm PT).