Defense Propels Rebels To Five-Set Win|
Nov. 21, 2013
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV volleyball team rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to defeat the Utah State Aggies on Thursday night by a 3-2 final score at the Cox Pavilion. UNLV opened up with a 25-16 win in the first period, but dropped the second (25-21) and third (25-18) before it was forced to make a comeback. The Rebels fought back to even the contest at 2-all with a 25-19 victory in the fourth before a 15-10 triumph in the fifth and final stanza.
With the win, UNLV improves to 16-11 overall and moves into a three-way tie for third place in the Mountain West with USU (18-10) and New Mexico with identical 11-6 conference marks.
The Rebels outhit UNM by 16 points (.183-.167) and threw down seven more kills (64-57) and attempted five more swings (191-186). The Scarlet & Gray opened up with a .400 hitting efficiency in the first before staying in a range of .061 to .241 the remainder of the match. USU, on the other hand, topped out with a .368 in the third, but hit between .075 (third set) and .167 (second).
Besides the offensive numbers, UNLV's defense came up big in the match with season highs in both digs (90) and team blocks (18.0). The team also tied its season bests in solo blocks (five) and assisted blocks (26).
The affair only featured 11 lead changes and 20 tied scores with the majority of both figures occurring in the second - 10 ties and six lead changes.
UNLV was paced by double-doubles form Sekola Falemaka and Madeline Westman. The former combined a match-high 21 kills with a team-best tying 21 digs for her 15th double-double of the year and 34th of her career. The latter's double-double - the first of her career - was a result of a 12-kill and 12-block (four solo) night.
"This has to be one of our best matches, and I'm so proud of my seniors," said Rebel head coach Cindy Fredrick. "Sekola's kills and digs, Madeline's kills and blocks, and Stephanie coming in tonight after being so sick yesterday with the flu. The entire team contributed tonight to beat a very good Utah State team. We showed a lot of heart tonight and a lot of toughness to come back and win."
Katlin Winters was big on both sides of the net with eight kills off a night of hitting .350 and five assisted blocks.
Rebel setter Stephanie Thelen fell one dig shy of joining Falemaka and Westman in the double-double club. Thelen had nine digs to go along with 50 assists, five assisted blocks and four kills.
USU was paced by double-doubles from three of its own: Rachel Orr (16 kills/12 digs), Tumua Etimani (12 kills/10 digs) and Paige Neves (46 assists/15 digs). Elle Brainard also had 16 kills to tie Orr, while Ashlan Rogers-Court had a match-high 28 digs.
UNLV returns to the Cox Pavilion one last time on Saturday afternoon with a 2:00 pm tilt against Boise State. Before the match, the volleyball program will recognize its three seniors - Westman, Thelen and Falemaka. At intermission of the contest, the Little Spikers will have a volleyball demonstration.
NOTES: Falemaka and Davies combined for their second 20-plus dig match of the year with the first coming against San Jose State on Nov. 9 ... Westman's 12 total blocks are a team high this season and the second occasion that a Rebel has hit double figures in 2013 (Katlin Winters had 11 against Colorado State on Oct. 17) ... Westman became the first Rebel in program history to surpass the 500-block mark with a total of 504 after Thursday's match ... In UNLV's career record book, Westman moved up to second in sets played (437), a tie for fourth in matches played (114) and 10th in total attempts (2,303) ... Falemaka moved into eighth in kills (889) ... Glenn moved into ninth in digs (817) ... Thelen moved into sixth in assisted blocks (221) and ninth in total blocks (232).