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Rebels Open Up 2006 With Classic

Aug. 24, 2006


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2006 Served Up: The UNLVRebels open up their 2006 volleyball season at home with the aptly named, UNLV Classic (Aug. 25-26). Joining the Rebels in Las Vegas are the Cal Poly Mustangs, the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles and the Oregon State Beavers. There are two matches on tap for Friday evening, while Saturday will be an all-day event with four matches.

UNLV Classic Opponent Capsules:

Cal Poly Mustangs

2006: 0-0; Letterwinners R/L: 10/6; Starters R/L: 4/2

2005 Records - Overall: 19-6; Big West: 10-4 (3rd); Postseason: N/A; Ranking: NR

vs. UNLV: 5-0; Last Meeting: W, 3-0 on Nov. 29, 1985.

ORU Golden Eagles

2006: 0-0; Letterwinners R/L: 11/1; Starters R/L: 7/0

2005 Records - Overall: 22-11; Mid-Con: 12-2 (2nd); Postseason: N/A; Ranking: NR

vs. UNLV: 0-2; Last Meeting: L, 3-2 on Sept. 17, 2004.

Oregon State Beavers

2006: 0-0; Letterwinners R/L: 9/6; Starters R/L: 4/3

2005 Records - Overall: 11-13; Pac-10: 7-11 (7th); Postseason: N/A; Ranking: NR

vs. UNLV: 0-1; Last Meeting: L, 3-1 on Sept. 1, 1984.

The 2006 Schedule: The 2006 UNLV volleyball schedule includes three tournaments and a total of 28 regular season contests. The Rebels will play host to the UNLV Classic (Aug. 25-26) and the UNLV Invitational (Sept. 8-9) in the Cox Pavilion, while they travel to Pullman, Wash., for the Baden Cougar Challenge (Sept. 1-2). Overall, the schedule is broken down into 15 home matches and 13 on the road. Closing out the regular season will be the Mountain West Conference Tournament (Nov. 20-25), which will be staged in Las Vegas for the second straight year.

The Rebels open up the season by hosting Oregon State, Oral Roberts and Cal Poly in the UNLV Classic. The Rebels then hit the road for the Baden Cougar Challenge. Washington State will be the host team and will welcome UC Davis and Boise State to Pullman for the four-team event. The UNLV Invitational takes place during the third weekend of the season and brings Cal State Northridge, Xavier and UC Santa Barbara to Las Vegas.

The MWC regular season begins on Sept. 13 with a home match versus San Diego State. The Rebels have three non-conference matches sprinkled into the mix with road trips to Long Beach State (Sept. 15) and UC Riverside (Sept. 16) and a home contest against in-state rival, Nevada, Reno on Sept. 25. The regular season concludes on Nov. 17 at San Diego State.

Breaking down the 2006 opponents, the Rebels will be playing six squads that advanced to the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Three of the six came from the MWC: Colorado State, BYU and Utah. The other three postseason qualifiers were: Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and Nevada, Reno. Utah closed out the 2005 season ranked in a tie for 25th in the AVCA's final rankings, while UC Santa Barbara, BYU and Long Beach State were receiving points.

2006 Outlook: The Rebels have won 15 games each of the past two seasons and look to expand upon the progress made by Allison Keeley and her staff after the last two years.

UNLV notched back-to-back 15 win seasons for the first time since the 1984 and 1985 campaigns. More importantly, the Rebels have played consistently tougher against its foes, mainly those in the Mountain West Conference.

The Rebels are still looking for their first Mountain West Conference regular season and tournament titles and their initial trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The 2006 Rebels return nine key contributors from its 2005 team and welcome five newcomers (includes one redshirt from 2005) to the program. Of those returning, six were primary starters last season with the only major loss coming with the graduation of Mariana Pencheva.

The team will get senior leadership from Michelle Banks and Kristin Koochi, while four juniors (Maria Aladjova, Brittani Lumsden, Lauren Miramontes and Jada Walker) bring three-years of collegiate experience to the court, as well.

Returning Rebels: The 2006 edition returns 82% of its attacking prowess from last season. Three of the team's top four kill specialists are back (Pencheva was third in 2005 with 234 kills). Miramontes led the squad with 418 kills and was closely followed by 406 thrown down by Aladjova. Banks trailed Pencheva's tally by only seven with 217 of her own.

Miramontes, a middle blocker, returns for her fourth season as a Rebel, as her freshman campaign was cut short due to injury. The junior is coming off a stellar season in which she led the team in kills (418), kills per game (3.54), total attempts (1,068), solo blocks (15), assisted blocks (98), total blocks (113) and blocks per game (0.96). She played in every game (118) and match (30) in 2005. The 118 games is a record, which she shares with Banks, Walker and Melody Nua.

Miramontes used her achievements around the net to earn AVCA All-West Region Honorable Mention honors. She was also named to the MWC's All-Conference Team.

Aladjova, the MWC's Co-Freshman of the Year in 2004, earned MWC All-Conference and All-Tournament honors last season as she played in 115 games and 29 matches.

As an outside hitter, Aladjova trailed only Miramontes in most offensive categories. Aladjova tallied 406 kills for an average of 3.53 per game, while hitting at a .243 percentage. On the serve she finished second on the squad with 27 aces, including seven against Air Force on Oct. 27, 2005. At the net she was credited with 51 blocks (12 solo).

Banks, an outside hitter, pitched in 224 kills for a 1.90 per game average. Banks contributed on the other side of the offensive game with 77 assists and 17 aces. On the defensive side of the ball she dug out 290 attacks for a 2.46 average per game.

Lumsden rounded out the Rebel offensive with 200 or more kills in 2005, while participating in 114 games and all 30 matches. The outside hitter collected 217 for a 1.90 average per game. On the serve she tallied 25 aces. She finished second on the squad with 298 digs (2.61 per game).

Walker, the program's all-time leader in digs with 897 in two years of play, returns as the team's libero. She averaged 4.06 digs per game in totalling 479 on the year. She wasn't just a defensive player as she set 44 kills and served up 21 aces in 2005.

Koochi, a key player off the bench, had 41 assists, 10 aces and 105 digs in 89 games and all 30 matches.

Three sophomores return for the Rebels with Nua, Camille Cunnigham and Jennifer Johnson coming back after their freshmen seasons.

Nua dished up the second-most assists in a single-season with her 1,372 helpers last year. She averaged 11.63 per game. She was effective offensively in other ways, as well. She amassed 108 kills on the year for a 0.92 per game average. At the net, she blocked 63 attacks (four solo) for a 0.53 blocks per game average.

Cunningham earned playing time in 56 games and 22 matches as a defensive replacement. She had 105 digs for a 1.88 per game average and threw down 10 aces, as well.

Johnson saw playing time in 48 games and 18 matches. She collected 77 kills, while averaging 1.60 per game. She had 18 blocks (two solo).

New Rebels: Joining the 2006 edition will be four fresh faces and one redshirt from the 2005 season. These student-athletes should make some key contributions this season and will be a surprise to many opponents.

The five are: Jessica Daum (libero), Erin Greenwood (middle blocker, redshirt in 2005), Gerryn Moran (outside hitter), Samantha Noland (middle blocker) and Jessica Walters (outside hitter).



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