Rebel Volleyball 2008 Year-End Review
Jan. 6, 2009
LAS VEGAS -
Final Serve: The 2008 season ended on Nov. 29, with a 3-0 loss to then-#14 Florida. The Rebels finished the year 16-14 overall and tied TCU for fourth in the Mountain West with identical 9-7 records.
The Rebels have reached the 15-win plateau in each of the past five seasons, with each led by head coach Allison Keeley. The team has won at least 16 overall in the past three years, which includes back-to-back 20-win campaigns in 2006 and 2007.
The overall wins are aided by victories racked up in conference play, which UNLV has managed to win at least eight in Keeley's five-year time frame. With 2008's nine conference wins, the squad has now won no less than that amount since 2005.
Cunningham Digs Out Another Award: Although the volleyball season has ended the accolades kept rolling in for UNLV's Camille Cunningham, as she was tabbed to the 2008 American Volleyball Coaches Association's (AVCA) All-West Region Honorable Mention Team. Cunningham, who was also named to the Mountain West's All-Conference Team, became only the second Rebel to earn AVCA recognition.
Cunningham, a 5-8 senior from La Canada, Calif., stepped into the libero position in 2008. She topped all conference defenders in overall and conference digs-per-set statistics, while helping UNLV achieve top billing in both of those categories as a team. She finished the year first amongst the team with 527 digs, which is the third-most in a single-season at UNLV. She registered at least 11 digs in 28 of the team's 29 matches, with a career-best 33 coming in a win over Arizona State on Aug. 29. She provided some offense, as she led the team in aces (23) with a career-best four served up against South Carolina on Aug. 30. Overall, she sits second in career digs, eighth in matches played and ninth in sets played and aces.
Cunningham joins Lauren Miramontes (2003-07) as the only two Rebels to earn postseason recognition by the AVCA. Miramontes earned regional status twice with an honorable mention nod in 2005 and a first team selection in 2008. She ultimately was chosen a 2008 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention designate.
Trio Earn All-Conference Honors: For the fourth consecutive year the UNLV volleyball program placed at least two members on the Mountain West's All-Conference Team, which was voted on by the league's nine head coaches. Melody Nua, who was a repeat selection from 2007, was joined by Camille Cunningham on the 17-member squad. Cursty Jackson rounded out the awards for the Rebels, as she was named the MWC's Freshman of the Year.
Jackson became only the second Rebel to earn MWC Freshman of the Year recognition. Maria Aladjova (2004-07) shared the honor in 2004 before rattling off three straight All-MWC nods.
We Played Them: In all, the Rebels faced six ranked teams in 2008 and owned a 1-5 record in those contests. The lone victory came in an Oct. 16 bout with then-#13 Colorado State, which UNLV won 3-1.
The Rebels had six opponents (Dayton, Utah, Oregon, Miami (Ohio), Florida and Colorado State) this season make the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
Overall, UNLV's six NCAA Tournament opponents went a combined 7-6. Utah, Florida and Oregon went 2-1, while Colorado State was 1-1. Dayton and Miami (Ohio) both went 0-1.
In The Rankings: Besides playing six opponents that reached the NCAA Tournament, the Rebels had six matches against ranked competition. UNLV went 1-5 in those six matches with the lone win coming on Oct. 16, against then-13th ranked Colorado State.
On Dec. 23, the final Bison/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll came out and four of those six opponents finished the year ranked. Oregon was the highest ranked opponent with its #9 placing. Florida followed closely behind at #10, while Utah (#16) and Colorado State (#24) rounded out the quartet.
Nationally Speaking: For the second straight season UNLV's libero ranked within the top 50 of the NCAA's year-end statistics. Camille Cunningham finished the year with the 25th-best digs-per-set figure at 5.00. Cunningham followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, Jada Walker, who ranked 33rd in 2007 with a 5.64 dps average.
Conference Speaking: For the fifth consecutive year, UNLV's defense has topped the Mountain West's overall- and conference-only dig categories. These five years coincide with Allison Keeley sitting atop the helm of the Rebel program dating back to her taking the reigns of the program at the start of the 2004 season.
Keeley's defense didn't disappoint in 2008, as they averaged 15.97 digs-per-set in its 30 matches, while notching a 15.93 average in its 16 conference contests. Both numbers were good enough for #1 in both categories amongst the league's nine squads.
The 2008 team owned a 1.5 dig advantage over its closest competition in overall matches, while nearly a 1.0 dig edge in conference meetings.
In these past five years, the 2007 group had the greatest margin of difference in overall and conference matches with a 3.0 difference in both categories.
Another Cunningham: Camille Cunningham shares the same last name (but no relation) with a former UNLV all-time great...Randall Cunningham. Randall was inducted into the UNLV Hall of Fame in 1996 after his accomplishments on the gridiron, while Camille has spent her time on the court and has slowly worked her way into the record books.
After spending the past three years as a defensive specialist, she took over the libero jersey for the 2008 season. She became the second consecutive Rebel libero to rank in the top 50 of the NCAA's final statistics for digs-per-set, which she was 25th with a 5.00 tally. Coincidentally, she led the conference in digs for overall matches (5.00) and conference matches (4.76), as well.
She placed her name in the UNLV career record book on four occasions. She ranks second in digs with 1,280, seventh in matches played (112) and aces (82) and ninth in sets played (372). In the single-season record book, she is seventh in aces (36 in 2007) and then second (550 in 2008) and sixth (354 in 2007) in digs.
Besides racking up regular-season all-tournament honors in the UNLV Invitational (Sept. 5-6) and the Denver Invitational (Sept. 19-20), she took home All-MWC recognition and was placed on the AVCA's All-West Region Team.
In 2008, she registered at least 11 digs in 29 of 30 matches this season with 12 contests of at least 20. She amassed a career-best 33 against Arizona State (Aug. 29).
Although she was known for her defensive prowess, she did contribute offensively a time or two. She led the team in aces with 24 and was second in assists with 72. She notched a career-high four against South Carolina (Aug. 30). She aced at least two serves a game on seven occasions. In the setting department, she had at least two assists in 17 games with a season-high seven coming against Colorado State (Oct. 16).
Nua Records For The Books: Melody Nua ended her four-year run at UNLV as one of the best players in the school's history. Nua managed to play in all 120 matches and all but three sets in her career as a Rebel. She closed out her career as the all-time record holder in matches played (120), sets played (442) and assists (4,797). Besides those three career marks, she etched her name in the all-time aces and digs categories, as well. In the single-season book, she owns four of the ten best assists records.
She picked up her second Mountain West All-Conference nod this season, as she led the Rebels in assists (1,048), finished second in aces (20) and third in digs (256). She tallied double-digit assists in all 30 matches, while hitting the 20 barrier on 25 occasions. In her four-year career, she reached the double-digit mark in assists in 119 of 120 matches.
She amassed 13 double-doubles in 2008 with help from 13 double-digit dig matches. Overall, she racked up 40 double-doubles in her four years at as a Rebel. She had three different three-match streaks where she notched a double-double. She topped out at 16 digs for a season-high against Utah (Nov. 8).
Her best match in 2008 for assists came at home vs. San Diego State (Oct. 3), where she dished out 54 helpers.
Although she was known for setting up her attackers, she contributed one every now and then. She had 80 kills of her own this year with a season-high six occurring twice: Arizona State (Aug. 29) and Oregon (Sept. 12).
Going Green: Erin Greenwood made her presence felt in the middle with her ability to attack and put back attacks. In UNLV's all-time record book, Greenwood ranks fourth in hitting efficiency with a .275 average and in total blocks (269), assisted blocks (227) and fifth in solo blocks (42).
She closed out the season leading the squad in total blocks (77), solo blocks (17) and assisted blocks (60). She notched a season-high six blocks against TCU on Oct. 25.
On the attacking side of the net, she led the team in hitting with a .279 efficiency. She racked up 12 matches with a .300 hitting efficiency or better. Four of those 12 matches topped out at .400 or better.
She finished second on the team in kills (280) and kills-per-set (2.64). She tallied 10 or more kills in 14 matches and topped out at a career-high tying 22 against BYU on Nov. 6. Coincidentally, she initially set her personal-best against the Cougars on Nov. 23, 2007, in the MWC Tournament semifinal match.
In an 11-match span from San Diego State (Oct. 3) to Wyoming (Nov. 13), she racked up a team-best 137 kills and topped the squad with her 3.42 kills-per-set average. She hit at a .308 clip, which included a .579 outing at BYU (Oct. 11). She nearly surpassed that effort one week later vs. Wyoming (Oct. 18), when she hit .567.
Action Jackson: Before playing in UNLV's road trip through the state of Colorado (Sept. 18-20), Cursty Jackson had only played in a total of four matches and eight sets. From the Sept. 18 match at Air Force until the final match of the season she was a constant in the rotation playing in 21 matches and 75 sets.
In those 21 matches, she was one of UNLV's best players. She topped out all attackers in kills with 200 and was second in kills-per-set (2.67) and hitting efficiency (.252). She tallied no less than five kills in all but one match (at Colorado State on Nov. 10), while maxing out at 19 vs. BYU (Nov. 6). In all, she hit double-digits in eight of the 21 contests.
In the 21-match span, she racked up seven of her eight career matches in which she hit above the .300 mark. She hit at a .750 clip against Georgia State (Sept. 20) to rank as her best outing of the year.
Not only has she been strong attacking, she has been just as effective as a blocker. In the past 21 matches, she was tops on the team with 61 blocks (13 solo, 48 assisted).
Overall, she threw down 210 kills (2.53 kps) and was second on the team with a .261 hitting efficiency. At the net, she was second with 69 blocks (16 solo, 53 assisted).
Nehf Said: Sara Nehf racked up 177 kills on the year for an average of 2.46. Nehf saw action in 26 matches and 72 sets. She became more of a fixture in the lineup over the final two months of the season.
Nehf was a primary factor in the team's final 14 matches, which spanned from Oct. 3 until the end of the season. She led the team in kills (148) and kills-per-set (3.08). Overall, she led the squad in kills five times in those final 14, while racking up at least eight kills on 12 occasions.
In this two-month span, she hit double-digits eight times with a season- and career-high performance of 17 kills at Wyoming (Nov. 13). Five days earlier (Nov. 8), she had set those same highs vs. Utah with 15 kills. She managed another 15-kill effort on Nov. 22 vs. Air Force.
She tallied a .189 hitting efficiency on the year, but had four matches with a .300 or better performance. Her .591 showing vs. Air Force (Nov. 22) was a season- and career-best.
Overall, she was fourth on the team in kills (177) and kills-per-set (2.46).
She managed to notch 94 digs on the year with three double-digit matches, which helped her to three double-double outings. She owned a season-high 12 digs vs. BYU (Nov. 6), while stopping 10 in each of UNLV's contests vs. Wyoming.
On The Outside: Jessica Walters played well enough the first month of 2008 to earn all-tournament honors four times over. At the ASU Sheraton Classic (Aug. 29-30), Walters smashed 60 kills (4.62 kps) and hit .278. In the UNLV Invitational (Sept. 5-6), she had 29 kills (2.42 kps). In the Oregon Classic (Sept. 12-13), she collected 42 kills (4.20 kps) and hit .293. At the Denver Invitational (Sept. 19-20), she had 31 kills (3.10 kps) and hit .244.
She led the team in kills (284) and kills-per-set (2.99). Her numbers were hampered down the stretch as injuries hindered her playing time.
She hit for double-digits 15 times, while notching eight matches with 15 or more kills. One of those eight matches was a career maker, as she threw down 27 at Arizona State (Aug. 29), while hitting at a .404 clip.
She set a career-best in hitting efficiency when she smashed a .520 at BYU (Oct. 11). She knocked down 14 kills with only one errors in 25 swings.
She hit for better than .300 in six matches, with four of those going for .400 or better.
It's Just G: Gerryn Moran switched to more of a defensive role in 2008, but in the team's final five matches she showed off a little offense.
On the year, Moran tallied the second-most digs by a Rebel with 257 and owned a 2.62 digs-per-set average. She notched 10 double-digit dig outings with a season- and career-high 20 coming at Wyoming (Nov. 13). She ended the year with an 18-dig outing vs. then-#15 Florida.
Prior to the final five contests (Nov. 18 through Nov. 29), the only offense she was responsible for providing was from the service line. In all, she racked up 18 aces, which ranked as the third-most on the squad.
On the year, she tallied 35 kills. The thing is she only had eight heading into the Utah match on Nov. 8. In those final five contests, she racked up 27 kills. She topped out at seven twice: at Wyoming (Nov. 13) and at Colorado State (Nov. 16).
Sam I Am: Samantha Richard was one of four Rebels to play in all 30 matches in 2008. Richard provided offensively and defensively, as she produced three double-doubles, 126 kills and 218 digs.
On the offensive front, she finished fifth on the team in kills with 126. She had four matches, in which she amassed 10 or more kills. She topped out at 14 twice: New Mexico (Sept. 27) and San Diego State (Oct. 3). She had two matches where she hit above .300, with a .444 effort at New Mexico (Sept. 27) leading the way.
Besides attacking at the net, she helped out offensively with assists (30) and aces (14).
Defensively, she was fourth in digs (218) and digs-per-set (2.12). She managed 10 double-digit dig efforts with five coming to open up the season. She topped out at a season- and career-high 17 vs. Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 6).
Sam I Am, Part II: Samantha Noland saw action in 18 matches in 2008. Noland tallied 63 kills, two assists, nine digs and 18 blocks on the year.
She had six matches with five or more kills, while topping out at 14 vs. South Carolina (Aug. 30). In a four-match stretch from South Carolina to Miami, Ohio (Sept. 6), she amassed 39 kills.
She hit at a .250 clip with four matches above the .300 barrier. She topped out at .625 vs. Nevada, Reno (Sept. 28) when she had six kills and one error in 28 attempts. She was flawless vs. South Carolina, as she did not commit at error in 29 swings for a .483 efficiency.
At the net, she posted five solo blocks and 13 assisted ones. Her best defensive effort came against Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 6), as she blocked six total (one solo).
Keeler The Killer: Kelsey Keeler played in 27 matches and tallied 99 kills, eight assists, seven aces, 45 digs and 23 blocks.
In the UNLV Invitational (Sept. 5-6), she tied for the team-lead in kills with 29 and owned a kills-per-set average of 2.42. One week later, in the Oregon Classic (Sept. 12-13), she earned all-tournament honors. She managed 13 kills, four aces, 13 digs and eight blocks.
Keeler tallied five or more kills on nine occasions, with three falling in double-digits. She threw down a season- and career-high 13 vs. then-#10 Wisconsin (Sept. 5) before following that up with 10 more vs. Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 6). Her final 10+ effort came vs. Nevada, Reno (Sept. 28) with 12.
She had two matches in which she hit over .300, with a .310 vs. Wisconsin (Sept. 5) and a season- and career-best .462 at Air Force (Sept. 18).
Besides season- and career-highs in kills and hitting efficiency, she managed personal bests in other categories, as well: Assists (three vs. Wisconsin, Sept. 5); Aces (four vs. Baylor, Sept. 13); Digs (eight vs. Baylor, Sept. 13) and Blocks (four on two occasions).
Alles In Wonderland: Amanda Alles played in 12 matches in 2008, primarily as a backup setter to Melody Nua. Alles provided 65 assists to her Rebel attackers. She notched five assists or more on six occasions with three hitting double-digits. She amassed a season- and career-high 12 at Air Force (Sept. 18).
Besides helping in assists she produced three aces, one kill, eight digs and five blocks. She had two digs in three different matches.
Karney Games: Monika Karney played in six matches in 2008 before having to sit out the remainder of the season due to injury. Karney's season was cut short following an appearance in the Georgia State (Sept. 20) match.
Overall, she tallied three kills, one assist, two digs and one block.
Maurer Power: Leah Maurer played in 22 matches in 2008. Maurer produced 83 kills, 31 blocks, 17 digs, six assists and one ace.
Offensively, she tallied at least five kills on six occasions. She reached double-digits twice, with a season- and career-high 15 vs. Nevada, Reno (Sept 28). She followed that match up with 11 more vs. San Diego State (Oct. 3).
She hit .211 on the year, which was aided by three matches of higher than .300 efficiencies. She topped out with a .448 vs. Nevada, Reno (Sept. 28), as she had 15 kills and only two errors in 29 swings.
Defensively, she notched 28 assisted blocks and three of the solo variety. She had two four-block matches, both against TCU (Sept. 25 and Oct. 25). In the dig department, she had seven matches where she picked up two stops.
Tabby Cat: Tabitha Mabrey saw action in two matches in 2008. She came off the bench in a match at then-#16Colorado State (Nov. 16), where she recorded her first career dig.
Against Air Force (Nov. 22), she played in three sets and notched her first career assist.
Hawaiian Defense: Kela Lau Hee saw action in 29 matches this season and provided defensive help in the back row. Lau Hee was one of five Rebels to crack the 100-digs mark, as she pitched in 128.
She owned 12 matches, in which she tallied five or more digs. She broke into double-digits twice with 10 at Denver (Sept. 19) before one-upping herself with a season- and career-high 11 vs. TCU (Sept. 25).
Local Edition: Jeralynn Makaiwi played in 11 matches, mostly coming in to serve. Makaiwi notched three aces on the year with a season- and career-high two vs. South Carolina (Aug. 30). She assisted on two kills and registered four digs.
Tournament Honorees: UNLV played in four regular-season tournaments and had three student-athletes earn all-tournament recognition on seven occasions. Jessica Walters was honored in all four, while Camille Cunningham (twice) and Kelsey Keeler (once) received recognition, as well.
ASU Sheraton Classic (Aug. 29-30): Jessica Walters
Court, Class Success: A pair of UNLV volleyball student-athletes was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Eight Team on Nov. 6. Jessica Walters was tabbed to the first team for the second straight year, while Erin Greenwood was selected to the third team.
Walters and Greenwood were no strangers to receiving academic recognition, as they each have been named to the Mountain West Conference's Academic All-Conference Teams the past two years. Each has been honored on the MWC's Scholar-Athlete Teams, as Greenwood has three selections to Walters' two.
The duo were the past two recipients of the Top Sports Award the past two academic years (Walters 2007-08, Greenwood 2006-07). Walters went one step further and took home UNLV's Most Outstanding Female Athlete honors in April 2008.
MWC Anniversary Team: Three former UNLV volleyball greats earned spots on the Mountain West Conference's 10th Anniversary Volleyball Team, as selected by a combined panel of media, institutional and conference personnel and on-line fan poll, the league announced Wednesday. Lauren Miramontes (2003-07), Maria Aladjova (2004-07) and Jada Walker (2004-07) represented the Rebels on the 16-member squad.
The three Rebels that were selected were vital to helping establish UNLV volleyball to the level it has risen to over the past four seasons. The trio helped UNLV to the program's first-ever conference championship and first trip to the NCAA Tournament. UNLV witnessed its first back-to-back 20-win season, which included a program-best 24 victories in 2007 and a brief stint in the Top-25 rankings.