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UNLV Witnessed The Rebirth Of Its Volleyball Program

UNLV witnessed the rebirth of its volleyball program in 2004. With the help of first-year head coach Allison Keeley and a fresh lineup, the Rebels turned the `04 season into a success. The Rebels closed out 2004 with an overall mark of 15-12 and a Mountain West Conference record of 8-8. The 15 total wins rank as the third-most in the program's history, while the eight league victories were the most by any UNLV squad since the inception of the MWC in 1999.

More importantly, the Rebels completed 2004 with a winning mark, the first such occurrence since the 1998 season in which the team posted 23 wins to eight losses. Last year's finish came in as the Rebels' fifth-best winning percentage (.556). The 2004 season witnessed the end of three senior careers as Nicki King, Tarin Keith and Nina Franchini completed their eligibility as Rebels, but the emergence of a JC-transfer (Mariana Pencheva) and four freshmen (Lauren Miramontes, Maria Aladjova, Brittani Lumsden and Jada Walker).

For King, the 2004 season just added to her career accomplishments. She had 1,064 assists in `04 to add to her record 4,261 career assist mark. She also has her name in five other career record categories. The season began at home with the UNLV Classic on Sept. 3-4. The Rebels went 2-1 in their own tournament with both victories coming against Washington State. The lone loss was to San Jose State. After the season opening weekend, the squad hit the road for three matches in Northridge, Calif., on Sept. 10-11. The tournament started off poorly with back-to-back losses to SMU and Cal State Northridge, but the team regrouped to defeat Cornell in the final match.

The Rebels headed back to California to play in a tournament hosted by Fresno State on Sept. 17-18. UNLV put up it secondstraight win with a victory over Oral Roberts. The host Bulldogs were not gracious as they ended the two-match winning streak. Following the loss the team turned things around to defeat San Francisco before heading home for four matches in the friendly confines of the Cox Pavilion.

Back in Las Vegas, the team ended a four-match homestand with three wins. By putting the win over USF in the mix, UNLV had reeled off a three-match winning streak (USF, San Diego State & Utah Valley State). Unfortunately, the ninth-ranked team, Colorado State, had to end the streak. The Rebels healed quickly to defeat Wyoming to end the homestand. On Oct. 8 and 9, the Rebels headed to Utah to play 20th-ranked Utah and BYU. The Utes and Cougars hung two "L's" on the Rebels and dropped the squad to one game over .500 (8-7).

After losing three of their last four, the Rebels pulled off a four-match winning streak (the eighth longest in UNLV history) with home wins over Air Force and New Mexico and road wins against San Diego State and Wyoming. Once again, Colorado State had to enter the picture and break up the winning ways. In Fort Collins, the #9 Rams ended the fourmatch winning streak and opened up a four-match losing streak, three of which came at home.

Closing out the home schedule with three-straight losses was not what the team had in mind, but the road became a much welcomed site with two MWC matches left to play. With wins at New Mexico and Air Force, UNLV finished the regular season at 14-11. Heading into the MWC Tournament in Fort Collins, the Rebels were looking to do something that the team had never done before, win a first-round contest. Up against Wyoming, the Rebels defeated the Cowgirls 3-1. In the semifinals, #19 Utah fought back from a 2-1 game deficit to defeat the Rebels 3-2 and end the season.



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