The Season Starts Friday Night
Aug. 23, 2012
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The 2012 season gets underway this weekend with the Rebels hosting its UNLV Invitational on Aug. 24-25 in the Cox Pavilion. UNLV will welcome CSU Bakersfield, The Citadel and Northern Arizona to Las Vegas for the two-day event held at the Cox Pavilion.
UNLV INVITATIONAL SCHEDULE:
Friday, Aug. 24 05:00 pm The Citadel vs. Northern Arizona 07:00 pm UNLV vs. CSU Bakersfield
*The team listed first has been designated as the home team and will occupy the left bench.
*A dedicated tournament page has been created and be found in the "More Links" section on the volleyball page on the UNLVRebels.com website.
UNLV PICKED TO FINISH FIFTH IN THE MW: The UNLV volleyball team was selected to finish fifth overall this season in the 2012 Mountain West Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league's nine head coaches. The Rebels received 42 points to place four spots behind defending conference champion Colorado State, who garnered eight first-place votes and 80 points.
UNLV, who is coming off a 14-17 showing last season, closed out the season with a Cinderella-like run at the 2011 Mountain West Championship. After a seventh-place finish in conference action, the Rebels knocked off second-seeded San Diego State (3-0 sweep) and third-seeded TCU (3-1). Unfortunately, the team's run came to an end with a loss to CSU in the tournament finale.
uWESTMAN NAMED TO ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM: UNLV's Madeline Westman was named to the 2011 Mountain West All-Conference Team, as selected by the league's eight head coaches.
Westman led the Rebels in hitting (.323), total blocks (62) and assisted blocks (50) in conference play. She finished second on the squad in kills (135) and solo blocks (12). In 14 league matches, she threw down at least five kills 13 times and hit .250 or better in 12 outings. For the year, she led the team in all three blocking categories and hitting efficiency (.300) this season.
THELEN, THOMAS NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: The UNLV Rebels had two of its own, Candice Thomas and Stephanie Thelen (designated setter) named to the 2011 Mountain West Volleyball Championship All-Tournament Team following the squad's play in the three-day competition.
Thomas led the Rebels in hitting efficiency with a .368 average and in kills with 35. She had at least six kills in all three matches and topped out with a career-best 20 vs. TCU (Nov. 19). Besides contributing offensively, Thomas had seven blocks and four digs.
Thelen led UNLV in assists (109) and assists per set (10.90). She dished out 19 or more helpers in all three contests and tied her season and career high with 56 against TCU (Nov. 19). She also added 21 digs, nine blocks, seven kills and two aces.
2012 OUTLOOK: The 2012 UNLV Volleyball team looks to build upon the success that its predecessor had in the Mountain West Tournament. Last year's edition entered the conference's end-of-season soiree as the seventh seed and wound up in the championship match after it defeated the second-seeded (San Diego State) and third-seeded (TCU) teams in its first two outings.
Cindy Fredrick, who is in her second season at the helm of the Rebel program and 25th as a collegiate head coach, returns eight letterwinners from the 2011 season. More importantly, all eight of those student-athletes were contributors; six of which were starters.
This year's strength will be the continuity supplied by the return of Madeline Westman and Candice Thomas in the middle; Sekola Falemaka and Daryn Glenn on the outside; Allison Davies and Layne Wilson in the back row; and setter Stephanie Thelen. Westman (2011 All-Mountain West), Thomas (2011 MW All-Tournament) and Thelen (2011 MW All-Tournament) were tabbed to various postseason awards lists following last season.
Best of all, the returners comprised the bulk of the totals tallied statistically for the 2011 squad. Overall, nearly 70% of the five key statistical categories return for the Rebels. UNLV's largest percentage coming back is in assists at 95%, which is primarily influenced by the 1,153 helpers dished out by Thelen. Westman and Thomas loomed large at the net last year, which helped contribute to the 86% of blocks reappearing. Percentages for service aces and digs are both in the upper 70s - 79% and 76%, respectively - while kills round out the quintet with a 69%.
Although this year's team has eight familiar names returning, six newcomers joined the mix and pushed the roster size to 14. Siga Appelgate leads the list of fresh faces to wear the Scarlet & Gray after a two-year stint at the University of the Pacific. Appelgate, a junior, joins a quintet of freshmen - Taylor Blackmun, Kinsey Caldwell, Bree Hammel, Ceannia Kincade and Tanja Ranilovic - to round out the Rebel roster.
OUTSIDE HITTERS: Falemaka (junior) and Glenn (sophomore) are the lone returners on the outside for the Rebels, but will be joined by Appelgate, Hammel and Kincade.
Falemaka saw action in 26 matches (87 sets) and compiled six double-doubles (all kill-dig combinations). She threw down 172 kills and notched 207 digs, while contributing 31 assists, 23 blocks and 13 aces.
Glenn played in all 31 matches and 118 sets with five double-doubles (all kill-dig combinations) as a first-year player. She amassed 232 kills and finished second on the squad in digs with 260. She also pitched in 62 assists, 54 blocks and a team-best 30 aces.
Appelgate, a transfer from the Big West Conference, participated in 45 matches in her two seasons playing for the Pacific Tigers, which saw her tabulate 78 digs, 66 kills, 17 aces, 17 blocks and nine assists.
Hammel and Kincade also will see some playing time on the outside.
MIDDLE BLOCKERS: The middle is probably the position with the most depth and experience on the court this season. Westman (junior) and Thomas (junior) both added to their top-10 rankings in the program's single-season and career record books with their 134 and 110 total block outputs last season. The duo will also see Katlin Winters (redshirt sophomore) and rookie Tanja Ranilovic provide some help at the net.
Westman, who ranks fifth overall in career total blocks and sixth in both hitting efficiency and assisted blocks, played in all 31 matches and 123 sets. She led the team in hitting efficiency (.290), total blocks (134) and assisted blocks (112), while coming in second in kills (286) and solo blocks (22).
Thomas sits sixth overall in career blocks after playing in 31 matches and 123 sets last year. She led the team in solo blocks (23), while ranking second in total blocks (110) and assisted blocks (87). She was third in kills (236).
Winters saw action in six matches and 15 sets, which produced 12 kills, nine blocks and five assists.
Ranilovic comes to UNLV after developing her game in Serbia.
SETTERS: Thelen became the team's primary setter last season after only playing in five matches during her freshman year. In 2011, her assist total was the sixth-most recorded in a single season by a Rebel, and the figure helped propel her to the same position in UNLV's career book (1,263), as well.
Thelen notched a team-best 10 double-doubles (all assist-dig combinations) last season. Besides her astonishing assist tally, she recorded 245 digs, 86 kills, 81 blocks and 21 aces.
She will be joined by Caldwell, a newcomer from Fredrick's neck of the woods in Iowa.
DEFENSIVE SPECIALISTS: The back row will see the return of Davies (sophomore) and Wilson (redshirt sophomore), while Blackmun adds some depth to the position.
Davies played in all 31 matches and a total of 118 sets en route to notching the sixth-most digs (398) in a single season by a Rebel. She also contributed 33 assists, 17 aces and one kills as a freshman.
Wilson, who sat out the 2012 season as a redshirt, contributed as a freshman last season, and she saw action in 21 matches and 70 sets. She notched 138 digs, 10 assists, three aces and two kills.
2012 SCHEDULE: The Rebels have 29 matches on the docket with 12 of those contests occurring in four tournaments, two of which they will host. The schedule is loaded with five meetings with squads that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament - Colorado State (twice), Louisville, Miami and Middle Tennessee State.
UNLV opens the season with six of its first nine matches played in Las Vegas at the Cox Pavilion. The Rebels kick off the 2012 campaign at home in their own UNLV Invitational, which is scheduled for Aug. 24-25. The Scarlet & Gray will welcome Northern Arizona, The Citadel and CSU Bakersfield to the two-day, round-robin tournament.
The Rebels then hit the road for a tourney hosted by the University of Portland. UNLV will face Idaho State on Aug. 31, before squaring off against Tennessee State and Portland on Sept. 1.
UNLV returns home for its UNLV Classic on Sept. 7-8 with Gonzaga, Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern in attendance.
The Rebels close out the four-week tournament run in Kentucky, at a two-day affair on Sept. 14-15 hosted by the University of Louisville. All three of UNLV's opponents - Louisville, Miami and Middle Tennessee State - that weekend made an appearance in the 2011 postseason.
After playing 12 contests in a one-month span, UNLV's schedule will conclude with 17 matches spread out over two months. All but one of those matches - Utah Valley on Sept. 28 - will come against Mountain West competition in home-and-away meetings. Conference action begins with road trips to Air Force and Boise State on Sept. 20 and 22, respectively. From that point forward, the Rebels will only play once or twice per week and alternate home and away matches after every two outings until the middle of November when they will close out the regular season with three straight home contests against Fresno State (Nov. 16), Boise State (Nov. 21) and Air Force (Nov. 23).
New to the conference this season will be Fresno State and in-state rival Nevada, Reno, both formerly of the WAC. FS and UNR finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the eight-team league last year.