Front Range Setback
Nov. 21, 2009
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The UNLV Rebels (8-17 overall, 5-11 Mountain West) nearly pulled off an upset of the #25 Colorado State Rams (23-4, 15-1) Saturday afternoon in Fort Collins, Colo., but ultimately succumbed in five sets by scores of 26-24, 24-26, 27-25, 22-25, 12-15. The Rebels received career matches from Samantha Richard and Sara Nehf, as each racked up career-high numbers in the defeat.
The Rebels out-hit the Rams by one percentage point (.218 to .217) despite the home squad throwing down 11 more kills (74 to 63). CSU racked up six more errors (30 to 24), while attempting 24 more attempts (203 to 179). UNLV notched higher hitting efficiencies in three of the five sets, while topping out at .306 in the opening frame. The Rebels maintained a .200 or better average in the middle three stanzas before hitting a lowly .095 in the fifth and decisive set. CSU, on the other hand, topped out at .326 in the second, but hit .239 or less in the remaining four sets.
"This was the best match our team has played this season," noted UNLV head coach Allison Keeley. "We had great play on blocking and defense. Individual stepped up to compete on the offensive end. We've learned how to control a match and now we need to learn how to finish."
The first set was a set filled with spurts of momentum for both teams and featured nine ties and three lead changes. After six early ties, the last of which came at the 6-6 juncture, UNLV reeled off eight straight points to push out to a 14-6 lead. The eight-point cushion would be the first of three that the Rebels would amass. Holding a 20-12 lead, UNLV watched as CSU rattled off 10 of the next 12 points to pull even at 22-22. The set would tie twice more at 23-23 and 24-24 before back-to-back kills from Cursty Jackson and Sara Nehf to close out the set.
The second frame was much different than the first, as there were 19 ties and eight lead changes. Neither team could pull away from the other as the biggest lead through the first 24 points was only one. UNLV trailed 12-11 and rattled off four straight to break out to a 15-12 lead. CSU slowly evened things up at 18-18 and then witnessed one-point intervals again until the final tie was broken at 24-24 with consecutive errors by Kelsey Keeler to even the match at one set apiece.
UNLV held serve in the third from the get-go and only allowed CSU to tie things up on five occasions. The Rebels built two different six-point leads at 18-12 and 19-13 only to see the Rams creep back into the set, luckily to no avail. CSU pulled even at 22-22, 23-23, 24-24 and 25-25 before kills by Nehf and Erin Greenwood claimed the set and a 2-1 lead.
The teams used big swings in the fourth, but ultimately, CSU's final rush was enough to even the match at 2-2. The Rams held three different three-point leads up to the 10-7 mark to open up the fourth. The Rebels then turned the tides and went on a 12-3 rally of their own to claim a 19-13 lead. CSU then pulled even by winning seven of eight points at 20-20 and kept the run going extending it to 12-3 to end the set.
The Rams carried over the energy of the fourth-set win and kept it throughout the decisive fifth frame. CSU built as much as a seven-point lead at 11-4. UNLV rallied to win seven of the next nine to pull within two at 13-11 only to watch the home team win two of the final three to claim the set and match.
Richard and Nehf collected their eighth and third double-doubles on the year, respectively. Richard dished out a career-high 52 assists and added 15 digs for her 11th career double-double. Nehf dug out a career-best 22 digs and threw down the second-most kills for UNLV on the day with 14 tallies for her seventh career double-double. Richard added two kills and three assisted blocks, while Nehf had four blocks (one solo) and a career-high three assists.
Jackson led the Rebels in kills with 17, which gives her 14 double-figure matches on the year. She hit .244 and added six digs, five assisted blocks and three assists.
Greenwood topped all attackers with her .522 hitting effort. She smashed 13 kills on 23 swings and committed only one error. She assisted on seven blocks and dug out three attacks.
Besides having three players with 10 or more kills, UNLV had three reach double-digits in digs, as well. Nehf and Richard were two of the three, while Kela Lau Hee pitched in 19. Leah Maurer followed closely behind with a career-high nine and also had four kills.
Danielle Minch led a quartet of CSU attackers with a match-high 22 kills. Evan Sanders dished out a match-high 60 assists and tied Greenwood's effort of seven blocks. Katelin Batten tied Nehf's tally of 22 digs to lead the Rams in that department.
The Rebels return to action next weekend with Long Beach State's Mizuno Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 27-28. UNLV will play the host LBSU 49ers on Friday at 7:00 pm followed by a Saturday affair at 5:00 pm against Cal State Fullerton.