UNLV continues its three-game win streak, defeating both the Air Force Academy Falcons and the University of New Mexico Lobos.
Air Force Academy
In the first set, the score remained close, 8-7, but the Rebels managed to gain a three-point lead towards the end of the set. UNLV won set one, 25-21.
UNLV jumped to an early lead, 5-1, in the beginning of the second set. The Falcons found momentum and tied the score, 11-11.
The Rebels increased their offensive intensity to gain a two-point lead, but the Falcons didn’t let that discourage them. The Air Force Academy went on a 12-8 run and won set two, 27-25.
Once again, the score was close in the third set. UNLV went on a 4-1 run to stretch the lead by four. With that same momentum, the Rebels stretched that lead even more, but the Falcons still cut the lead by five points, 23-18, towards the end of the set. UNLV won set three, 25-20.
In the final set, the Rebels took a five-point lead, 11-6. UNLV held onto that lead, 17-10, and won the fourth set, 25-18.
Mariena Hayden had 16 kills and a career high of six aces. Milica Tasic had a career high in kills with 15 kills while Kate Brennan had eight kills.
“Just kind of going into each game like every game is a championship game, so just keeping that mindset,” Hayden said. “We’re working as hard as we can each game and coming into practice everyday and doing what needs to be done.”
Defensively, Tasic had two blocks while Brennan and Chloe Thomas had two blocks each.
UNLV outplayed the Air Force Academy in every category. The Rebels had a total of 74 points (0.316), 58 kills and 10 aces compared to the Falcons, 58 points, 50 kills and two aces.
The Rebels have had an impressive start to the season with a record of 12-3, with two of those games losing to ranked teams.
“I think they are starting to figure out what it takes to win games at crucial times,” head coach Dawn Sullivan said. “They are starting to understand how I manage the game a little bit better.”
The University of New Mexico
In set one, UNLV took an early 5-1 lead. The Rebels stretched their lead to a five-point lead, 13-8, but the Lobos managed to cut the lead by just two points (16-14). UNLV didn’t back down and won set one, 25-18.
The Lobos started off strong, taking an early two-point lead (6-4). UNLV tied the match 9-9, but the Lobos were not backing down, stretching the lead to six points, 22-16. The Lobos won set two, 25-18.
Again, Lobos gained an early lead of 5-2. The Rebels went on a 4-1 run to take the lead, 6-5. The Lobos didn’t let that discourage them and came back to lead, 14-10, but the Rebels offensively gained momentum and went on a 7-1 run leading 17-15. UNLV won the third set 25-20.
In the final set, the score remained close, 10-10, until the Rebels gained a four-point lead, 17-13, towards the end of the set. UNLV won the fourth set, 25-19.
Hayden led the team in kills with 15 kills. Tasic and Brennan had 10 kills, which was also Brennan’s career high in kills in a match.
Brennan had six blocks while Jordyn Freeman had four and Hayden had three.
UNLV outshined the University of New Mexico in two categories. The Rebels had 71 points (0.258) and 55 kills, compared to the Lobos who had 55 points (0.145) and 39 kills.
The Rebels are full of superstar athletes. Hayden is no.1 in kills of all time at UNLV and ranked top ten in the nation with the most aces in a set. Brennan is ranked in the top 100 in the nation in hitting percentages.
“It’s very humbling,” said Hayden. “I am grateful to be here and I’m blessed to have the people that make this possible, especially my setters. I wouldn’t be here without them and everyone else that makes it possible for me to come out here and play. I am extremely grateful.”
Some Rebels are consistently breaking their career highs, like Thomas with her career high in blocks during a game with five and Freeman with nine.
The Rebels will be facing the San Diego State Aztecs on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in San Diego, California at the Aztec Court before returning to the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas to face the Fresno State Bulldogs on Oct. 9 at 1 p.m.