Rebels Overwhelm Aztecs With 3-0 Win|
Nov. 18, 2011
ALBUEQUERQUE (UNLVRebels.com) - The seventh-seeded UNLV Rebels (13-16) swept past the second-seeded San Diego State Aztecs (17-9) by a 3-0 score (25-20, 29-27, 25-23) Friday afternoon in the first quarterfinal match of the 2011 Mountain West Volleyball Championship contested at the Johnson Center in Albuquerque. With the win, UNLV advances to Saturday's semifinals (televised by The Mtn.) against the third-seeded TCU Horned Frogs.
The win was the fourth straight for the Rebels in MW Volleyball Championship play dating back to the 2007 season. UNLV won all three of its matches en route to its first league championship before the conference halted postseason competition following that year.
UNLV's play around the net was the key in today's win with the offense hitting at a .245 clip and the blockers chalking up 11.0 (22 assisted) blocks. The Rebels tallied better hitting efficiencies in all three sets, including two staggering efforts in the first and second sets with .324 and .375 outputs, respectively.
SDSU, on the other hand, had more kills (49-43) and attempts (128-110), but committed 16 more errors. The Aztecs hit at .265 and .250 clips in the first two sets, but only managed a paltry .020 showing in the third and decisive frame.
In all, the match featured 32 ties and 12 lead changes. The second stanza was the most back and forth of the trio with 21 ties and lead changes, while the first and third combined for only 11 and three, respectively.
The first set saw UNLV make its move after SDSU tied the set up the only time at 4-all. After that moment, the Rebels rattled off three-consecutive points to push out to a 7-4 lead that they would never relinquish. They pushed the lead to six points on six occasions with the final time occurring at the 23-17 juncture.
The second frame treated the 234 fans in attendance and the others watching live on The Mtn. with some extra volleyball action with the score ending at 29-27. Neither team was able build more than a three-point lead throughout the set with UNLV achieving it twice and SDSU once. The Aztecs' biggest lead came at the 18-15 mark, but quickly dwindled down to one point for the remainder of the match. The Rebels foiled three set point opportunities by the Aztecs before capitalizing on their second one.
UNLV came carried over the momentum from its first two set wins early in the third, but a rally by SDSU quickly halted a runaway attempt. The Rebels struck out to a 3-0 behind three hitting errors by Aztec attackers. The lead ballooned to five points twice (7-2 and 8-3) before SDSU rallied to knot the score after winning five-straight points. The Aztecs held the lead during the middle stages of the set only to witness UNLV break a 14-14 tie and never look back.
The Rebels were led offensively by 12 kills from Makenzie Moea'i. Madeline Westman and Candice Thomas both had nine kills behind .312 and .412 hitting efforts, respectively. Westman was also instrumental on the other side of the net with a match-high eight blocks and four digs. Thomas had three blocks and one dig.
Stephanie Thelen dished out a team-high 34 assists, while pitching in six blocks, four digs, three kills and one ace.
SDSU was led by 15 kills from Andrea Hannasch and 10 more from Paije Pearson. Johnna Fouch fell one dig short of a double-double with 41 assists and nine digs. Kristi Jackels had a match-high 15 digs.
Notes: UNLV improves to 8-8 all-time in MW Tournament play ... UNLV owns a four-match winning streak in MW Tournament play dating back to 2007 ... In UNLV's single-season record book: Westman improved to fourth in assisted blocks (108) and fifth in total blocks (131); Thelen moved into seventh in assists (1,078); and Davies moved into seventh in digs (363).