Words Of Westman
Entry 11 - Sept. 27, 2012
Hello Rebel fans! I apologize for not blogging in forever. I promise I'll do it more often from now on!
For those who don't already know, we are currently 9-5 with one weekend of conference play under our belts. During the preseason, we held two home tournaments (one of which we won) and traveled to two more tournaments in Portland and Louisville. Overall, we had a pretty successful preseason and proved to ourselves that we can play well against some tough teams.
This past weekend we started conference play with two matches on the road against Air Force and Boise State. This is my favorite travel combination because both of these gyms are very fun to play in. Air Force always has a good sized crowd, and Boise State crams a ton of fans and its band into a tiny gym. It was so loud in there that we could barely hear each other! Even though those kinds of environments are a tad stressful, they make for a great atmosphere and it gets your adrenaline flowing!
Speaking of adrenaline, let's talk about our match against Boise State, which was probably the most intense and exciting game I have ever played in. After winning the first two games, Boise State really kicked it up a notch and won the next two sets. The deciding fifth set was a roller coaster of emotion. We started off in a 2-5 deficit and then eventually turned the score around to 9-6 in our favor. Later, Boise State had game point, but we held them off and came back with two more points to claim the match 16-14. Our team's focus, determination, and hustle won us that game. Our players were throwing their bodies around, making some amazing saves on defense and coming up big at the net two - Sekola and yours truly both had 20 and 21 kills, respectively! Winning a close game like that is one of the best feelings ever! Let's just say it was a happy plane ride home the next morning with two wins under our belts!
This weekend we have one non-conference match against Utah Valley and then we face off against New Mexico. Last weekend, the Lobos beat Colorado State and Wyoming, two very competitive teams, which means that we have a prime opportunity to take down a tough team! We are all very anxious to get on the court and go for two more wins this weekend!
Come out and support if you can! We play Utah Valley on Friday and New Mexico on Saturday. Go Rebels!
Entry 10 - Jan. 9, 2012
Hey Rebel fans! This is a little overdue, but I thought that I'd give you guys a little wrap-up of the end of our season. Because of my own procrastination, I have a lot to cover!
At the end of our season, we headed to our first--and only--Mountain West Conference Tournament. The night before the matches started, the conference held a banquet to welcome the teams and announce various awards. It was so interesting to see everyone out of spandex and uniforms; I kept thinking that I had missed my chance to wear heels since there was quite an array of girls over six feet tall rocking some stellar heels! The food was delicious, and I even got a little surprise--I found out that I was named to the Mountain West All-Conference Team! I was so shocked when they called my name, but it was an amazing feeling. I even found out that Coach Cindy had known about it the whole time--she is great at keeping secrets! After the dinner, it was time to go back to the hotel and rest up for our first match.
Going into our match against San Diego State, we knew that no one expected us to win. This doubt was exactly the fuel we used to light our enthusiasm for the match, and that fire is what gave us the advantage. We came out with a nothing-to-lose attitude and decided to just play to have fun instead of worrying about winning. This strategy worked for us because we came out and surprised everyone with a 3-0 sweep over SDSU! I don't think our team has ever been more excited after a win. This fire stuck with us for our next match against TCU. We lost the first set, but after that we came back and won the next three. I was especially proud of my fellow middle blocker Candice Thomas, who broke her own record with 20 kills! After this victory, we became the lowest seeded team to make the championship match in league history as we prepared to face top-seeded Colorado State. We were fired up for the match, but unfortunately our fire started diminishing. We lost our drive and suffered two bad losses in the first two sets. The third set proved more exciting, and for a moment we had them with a four or five point lead. We had just started to remember the team from the first two matches when we began to make some errors, which CSU capitalized on to win the match.
Sitting on the sidelines having to watch CSU celebrate was one of the worst memories I have. Knowing we were that close to an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament was heart-breaking. However, as terrible as that felt, it will serve as ammunition for next season. We've tasted blood; we know the sweet satisfaction of victory and since many of us will now have two full years of playing under our belts, we now are learning how to win. One good memory of the post-match celebrations was watching Candice and our setter Stephanie Thelen receive MWC All-Tournament Team honors. At our post-season meeting, Coach Cindy said something that really stuck with me: she said that she has sat through many tournament-selections, and she told us that it is the best feeling in the world to see your school announced. She then told us that she knows that she will have this feeling again, and that she wants us to be there with her. I got chills when I thought that it could happen for us. It will require determination, hard work, and perseverance, but it's possible.
Watch for us in the Spring and Fall seasons Rebel fans! Thanks for all your support throughout the season!!
Entry 9 - Nov. 20, 2011
Alright Rebel fans, I know it has been a while since my last blog, but I feel like now is a perfect time for a new one as we prepare for the Mountain West Volleyball Championship today!
We had a rough ending to our regular season, finishing where we had been predicted to finish - seventh place. However, we didn't let that get us down and went into the tournament with a nothing-to-lose attitude. We decided not to play to win, but to play to have fun and prove to everyone that we are a good team!
Beating SDSU and TCU was amazing. I think these are my favorite memories of volleyball that I have thus far in my career. Our energy and heart have been unbelievable. This whole trip has been a whirlwind; between the exciting games, amazing upsets, and TV interviews, it still feels like a dream. I am so proud to be a part of this team, and I can't wait to see what we do today! We are ready to take down the Rams!!
Thank you, Rebel fans, for all your support!
Entry 8 - Oct. 13, 2011
It's been a while since I last blogged, and a lot has happened! We are now 9-9 overall and 2-3 in conference play. After our victory against San Diego State and our near-defeat of #21 Colorado State, our team fell into a little slump. We were lacking energy and focus, which resulted in our losses to Wyoming and New Mexico. After the match against New Mexico, our team decided that we needed to make a change and change our attitudes. After that, we came out as a different team against TCU. We were excited, scrappy, and fearless against the Horned Frogs. It felt great to see our team competing the way that I know we can. After only dropping one set to TCU, we beat them on their own home court! It was a very happy plane ride home!
We plan on being successful again this weekend as we face Boise State on Thursday, who is new to the Mountain West Conference, and Air Force on Saturday (which is our Dig Pink match). This is a huge weekend for us; it gives us the chance to win both home games and improve to a winning record of 4-3. This would give us a great advantage in the ranking system--I don't know if anyone has been keeping track, but this is the year of upsets in our conference. At this point, I feel that this conference is up for grabs. I think it will be close, but the team that wants it the most is going to clinch it. Why not us?!
Entry 7 - Sept. 26, 2011
What a SWEET victory!! We had a successful home opener on Friday as we swept the San Diego State Aztecs in three! It was such a great match overall; everything just seemed to click. We minimized our errors and played smart, mixing up our shots and focusing on pushing points. Our blocking was exceptionally impressive--we shut out their hitters and forced substitutions.
This was the first time in five consecutive meetings with the Aztecs that UNLV has come out on top, so I am very proud of us not only for winning, but for doing so in three. This is especially exciting because finishing our games has been a challenge for us lately. We seem to love to win the first two sets and then lose momentum and have to battle through a five game match (but hey, at least you guys get your money's worth!). After this week, we seem to have broken the five-game curse with clean sweeps of both big-time rival UNR and SDSU. Now, our challenge is to maintain this momentum.
This upcoming week will be a challenging one as we take on the Colorado State Rams and the Wyoming Cowgirls. These are good teams and I am so excited to see what we can do! I think that we have proved our worth; people may see us as an underdog, but we are rising up and making a new name for ourselves. After this weekend's conference play, I was enthralled to see that UNLV ranks in the top three of almost all of the conference-only stats. Now all we need to do is ensure that our names stay up there!
Please come out and support us on Thursday and Saturday! We love having fans and could use all the support we can get!
Entry 6 - Sept. 15, 2011
Our first home tournament is under our belts and although it didn't go exactly as we hoped, we still played hard and proved successful. With our 2-1 record this weekend, we are now 5-4, and for many of us this is the first time that we have ever had more wins than losses at UNLV. So, technically, we've already proved that we are better than we were last year! Of course, we aren't done yet; we can still get so much better.
This weekend's wins did not come without hard work. After our matches at Texas Tech, Coach set out to train us better in off-speed shots in order to make us a less predictable team. All that practice proved successful; I saw a noticeable difference in our level of play this weekend when everyone started mixing up their shots. I was also proud of how we never gave up, even when we were down or the other team had stolen the momentum. We fought to the end in every match, and whether we won or lost it was fun to see our team compete and play with intensity.
After last weekend of two five-set matches paired with two more this weekend (along with a four-gamer as well), I think it is about time that we sweep some teams! We are hard at work in practice this week to ensure that we do just that!
P.S. A big thank you to all who came out to our matches this weekend! It was much appreciated! :)
Entry 5 - Sept. 7, 2011
The Rebel women had a great tournament in Texas! We traveled to Texas Tech University (although ironically we never played Texas Tech) and came home undefeated, improving our overall record to 3-3. On Friday, we swept the Sugar Bears of Central Arkansas, and then faced a tougher match against Morehead State. The match went to five sets, but we pulled ahead in the fifth set and were victorious. Saturday was a similar story; we once again used all five sets to defeat Northwestern State University. Our coaches joked that we almost gave them heart attacks with all the close, nail-biting matches we had. I think the players felt that way as well - I know I did!
I was so proud of us this weekend because I think that we did a much better job of coming together and playing as a team. For the first time this season, we were getting excited about points and holding each other accountable. When the sets were close, we were all determined to win and I could feel the energy when I was on the court. Even if we made a mistake or dropped a set, we came back with a fire. It was exciting to see our team learn how to win and how to be competitive. Another exciting aspect of this weekend was the fact that our matches against Central Arkansas and Morehead State were both considered upsets, so that can only mean good for us! After our successful weekend, we are pumped and ready to continue winning this weekend at our first home tournament.
Two players from our team were selected to the all-tournament team honors. One player was Lili Brochado, and the other was yours truly! :)
Entry 4 - August 31, 2011
It's times like these where it is difficult to blog about our season: we traveled to Colorado over the weekend for a tournament and left without a victory over any of three teams we played (Colorado, Northern Colorado, and UC Davis). We regressed to old habits, both physical and mental, that kept us from playing at our full potential. Our team needs to learn how to start and finish strong, along with playing mentally tough and smart.
Last weekend was obviously a disappointment for us because I think that many of us had high hopes for this tournament. It is hard to work as hard as we have been working and mentally prepare without yielding favorable results. However, despite how poorly our turnout was, it is by no means an inclination of future results. Just as Coach Cindy told us today, we are never going to give up hope and simply succumb to our opponents. So what if we just went 0-3 this weekend? All that tells us is that we have areas to improve on, and we are working hard to do just that. As long as we continue to believe in ourselves and each other, we still have the chance to make a name for UNLV volleyball. This weekend we travel to Texas, and we are determined to come home 3-3!
Entry 3 - August 22, 2011
The first win of the season is under our belts! On Saturday, we hosted our annual alumnae match in the Cox Pavilion and were victorious 3-0. It was exciting to play on our home court once again; it's been way too long. It was interesting to see how the coaches wanted us to warm up since their style is very different from the coaches last year. A little hectic at times, but effective! The most welcome change in the warm ups was not the activities we were doing, but the fact that we FINALLY were allowed to make our own warm up playlist. We each submitted a song that pumps us up, so the it worked out for everyone.
The match itself was fun. As a team, there were many things that we did well and some others that, well, didn't go as well. That's okay though--every team has areas to improve on. The next day, we met as a team and discussed our performance. We decided that our blocking and serving went well, and that we could have done a better job of communicating on the court. If there is one thing that Cindy has taught us, it's that there is always something to talk about on the court, whether it is about a front row setter, how many hitters there are, or in Friday's case, a small blocker that we should have pounded balls over. This match was good for us and gave us some insight for what we need to do this week in order to prepare for our first preseason tournament this weekend in Colorado!!
P.S.: If anyone is wondering where the blog is about the ropes course, it's because it didn't end up happening due to a circumstantial error. Don't worry though: we got our fair share of team bonding in that day, including an activity that called for loaded mouse traps and blindfolds! Needless to say, we trust our teammates!! :)
Entry 2 - August 16, 2011
Season has officially started, and our bodies are definitely feeling it. Every night, I come home and my muscles feel as limp as noodles, but it is all worth it. Our practices are intense, productive, and--the best part--even fun. The difference in our demeanor in practice this year compared to last season is amazing; I feel like I am a part of a completely new team. Even our coaches are noticing our changes. We are talking more on the court, improving in our basic skills, and playing smarter. It is exciting to watch our team grow, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the season has to bring.
Throughout the week, we have held team meetings where we discuss everything from how to act on the court to where we want to finish at the end of the season. Coach Cindy is pushing us to expect more from our teammates and from ourselves as individuals. Her goal is not just to mold us into phenomenal volleyball players, but to develop us into strong, confident, respectful women. It must be the mothering side of her coming out!
This upcoming week should be quite eventful: on Thursday, we are venturing out of our comfort zones and exploring the rope course at Mt. Charleston. I'm excited to see how we all work together in situations outside of volleyball. Maybe I will have some good stories to write about for next week! Also this week is the annual alumni match. This will serve as the first game-like situation of the season and will test our skills and teamwork.
Other than those two events, our week follows the same routine. Our preseason lives consist of volleyball all day, all the time. We wouldn't have it any other way!
Entry 1 - August 9, 2011
It's a fresh season with new coaches, teammates, and expectations, and the UNLV Rebel volleyball team is hitting the gym hard. Our training for this season has been relentless; after an intense spring season, we all spent the majority of our "summer vacation" working out and preparing for pre-season. Thanks to all that hard work, we are back stronger and healthier than ever and are ready to build a new legacy for UNLV volleyball!
The majority of our team has been in Las Vegas since early July, and we have not taken a break yet. We balanced summer school classes with conditioning, lifting, open gyms, and working camps. Last week marked our final week of lifting and conditioning, and our team crunched out some serious numbers!
There is a new energy on our team - we are back fierce, confident, and determined to evolve into the best team that we can be. We cannot wait to turn this program around and prove to everyone that we are WINNERS!