UNLV Volleyball hosts the Rebel Challenge

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Mariena Hayden passing the ball during match point, middle blocker Jordyn Freeman would end up getting the kill and the Rebels would defeat Washington State. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

UNLV hosted the Rebel Challenge from Sept. 2 to Sept. 4. The Rebels played the University of Purdue Boilermakers and Washington State University Cougars. UNLV fell 0-3 against the Boilermakers and defeated the Cougars 3-1.

UNLV vs. University of Purdue

In set 1, the score kept going back and forth, 7-7, until the Boilermakers went on a 6-1 run, making the score 8-13. The Rebels didn’t let that discourage them and came back 19-23. UNLV lost the first set 19-25. 

In set 2, the score was very close until the very end, 19-19. The Boilermakers went on a 6-2 run, winning the second set 21-25. 

In set 3, the Boilermakers jumped to a 12-16 lead. The Rebels went on a 7-6 run, coming back 19-22. The Boilermakers won the set 23-25. 

This was the Rebels’ first home game of the official season as their first three games were away. When the crowd cheers, it gives the entire team a different energy and feel in the building.

“I think what’s so special about this team is they compete no matter what,” Coach Dawn Sullivan said. “It’s wonderful to be at home. The energy helped us a ton and they got to feed off it.”

Chloe Thomas was the Freshman of the Week this previous week. She is a 6 feet tall blocker from Allen, Texas and had a total of 12 kills in the previous three matches.

“At home, we have our own fans,” Thomas said. “When we are away, most of the fans are from the opposing team and we have to bring our own energy. When we are home, we can lean on our crowd.”

Malica Tasic is a senior from Belgrade, Serbia. She played club volleyball for Crvena Zvezda and internationally for Serbia. She helped Crvena Zvezda to a third-place finish at the Serbian Super League in 2018-19.

“This was my first home game in the U.S.,” Tasic said. “The energy with the team was amazing. We played the number eight team in the country. I think we played really well against a really good team.”

Offensively, Mariena Hayden led the team with 15 kills and 4 aces, Shelby Capllonch with 8 kills and 4 aces and Tasic with 8 kills. Lauryn Burt helped the team with 19 assists and Arien Fafard also helped with 15 assists. Defensively, junior Jordyn Freeman and Tasic had two blocks each.

UNLV stunned their Big Ten Conference opponent by overachieving in multiple statistics. UNLV had a total of six aces versus the Boilermakers one ace. UNLV had a total of 45 kills and 36 assists. The Boilermakers was close behind with 41 kills and 32 assists in total. 

Washington State University

In set 1, the score went back and forth, 13-13. The Cougars went on a 7-3 run, making the score 12-16. The Rebels managed to find a spark and went on a 12-6 run. The Rebels won the first set 25-22. 

In set 2, the game went back and forth until the end of the set. The score came down to the wire with the Cougars leading by 1, 19-20. Washington then went on a 5-2 run, winning the second set 21-25. 

In set 3, the score was very close for the beginning of the set, 11-14. UNLV went on a 6-1 run, managing to make the score 17-15. The Rebels won the third set 25-19. 

In set 4, the score went back and forth, until the end of the match. The score was tied, 18-18, then the Rebels went on a 7-4 run to win the set 25-22.

Offensively, Hayden led the team with 18 kills, three aces and two assists, Tasic had 10 kills, and senior Kate Brennan had 9 kills. Both Fafard and Burt had double digit assists with 24 assists for Fafard and 20 assists for Burt. Defensively, Brennan had 5 blocks. Both Freeman and sophomore Gabrielle Arretche-Ramos had 3 blocks.

This was the first win over a ranked team since 2016. The season has just begun, and the Rebels have much to look forward to this season. The Rebels have so much to show as the season continues.

“The most exciting thing is to watch this team develop,” Dawn said. “This is barely what they have inside of them. We are still working on quite a few things, but what they showed is they can compete with anybody.”

This season is the final season for the seniors on the team.

“I have really good expectations,” Tasic said. “I think we are a really good team, and teams don’t need to be afraid of us, but they need to be ready for us. They don’t know what is coming to them.”

Up next, UNLV will play the Colgate University Raider on Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. in Hamilton, New York. The game will be aired on ESPN+. 

UNLV will play in the Cornell Invitational on Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. where they will face Niagara University Monte and Cornell University at 4 p.m. This will also be aired on ESPN+. On Sept. 11, the Rebels will play on Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. against Bucknell University.

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