Rebels Round Up Cowgirls
Nov. 18, 2004
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - UNLV's offense sparkled as the Rebels won their first Mountain West Conference Tournament match since 2001, beating Wyoming 3-1 Thursday afternoon at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo.
In winning just their second MWC Tournament match in school history 30-12, 30-21, 28-30 and 30-16, the fourth-seeded Rebels improved to 15-11 on the season, 8-6 in league play. UNLV's lone MWC win before Thursday's match was a 3-2 victory over San Diego State in the quarterfinals of the 2001 tournament. Fifth-seeded Wyoming wrapped up its season with a 13-14 record, 6-8 in conference.
Senior outside hitter Tarin Keith drilled a season and match-high 23 kills to lead the Rebels into Friday afternoon's semifinal match against top-seeded and No. 19-ranked Utah at 12:00 p.m. (PST). Utah swept Air Force 3-0 in the opening match of the tournament.
Despite five players making their first appearance in a MWC tournament match, UNLV looked like a veteran group, starting game one with a 7-1 run that forced Wyoming to call a timeout. The lead grew to 11-2 behind three consecutive kills from Keith and the Rebels never looked back in winning the opening game of the match. Keith finished game one with seven kills and the Rebels dominated at the net, hitting .325 to Wyoming's -.042. The Cowgirls committed nine errors compared to seven kills.
"We are a very young team and it was important to come out strong," first-year UNLV head coach Allison Keeley said. "It was a good start for us in the postseason."
Wyoming had game two tied at 4-4, the first time that the Cowgirls had been even with the Rebels in the match. UNLV wouldn't give Wyoming a lead and with the score 7-6, the Rebels went on a 6-0 run that pushed the margin to 13-6. Wyoming cut the lead to 17-12 before another UNLV spurt, this one a 5-0 run, made the score 22-12, putting the game out of reach.
Down two games to none Wyoming did not roll over and the Cowgirls took their first lead of the match in game three at 11-10 off an ace by Sara Maytorena. Her ace was part of a six-point run that gave the Cowgirls a 14-10 lead. UNLV regained the lead 22-21 on an ace from freshman Brittani Lumsden.
From that point on there were seven ties as the teams traded points down the stretch, with the final tie coming with the game knotted at 28. Rebel senior setter Nicki King, who had just tied the game with a kill, served the ball out of bounds on the next play, giving Wyoming a 29-28 lead. Wyoming would win game three off another mistake by UNLV, this one a hitting error by Lauren Miramontes.
That would be the last time that the Rebels would trail in the match.
UNLV opened the fourth game with a 5-0 run, as Lumsden knocked down two kills and King had an ace in the spurt to atone for her critical game-three error. The lead grew to 13-6 after an ace by Mariana Pencheva and UNLV maintained its lead the rest of the way. The Rebels hit an even .500 in game four, knocking down 16 kills as a team against just one error in 30 attacks.
King ran UNLV's offense smoothly throughout the match, with the Rebels hitting above .300 in all four games to finish the night hitting .362 (72-18-149). King finished the match with 51 assists. Lumsden knocked down 15 kills and Miramontes added 12 to join Keith in double-digits.
"Nicki (King) was setting the ball awesome all game and we were all playing together," Keith said. "The offense was putting balls down and I think it was a matter of focus and coming out strong."
Freshman libero Jada Walker scooped up 23 digs for the Rebel defense, the sixth time this season that she has eclipsed the 20-dig mark.
Rachel Smith led Wyoming with 16 kills and Andrea Tuck added 12. Michelle Weydert had 17 digs and Amy Doman finished the match with 41 assists.