No. 1 seed UNLV lost to No. 4 seed Utah State in a three-set upset, (18-25, 23-25, 21-25) in the semifinals of the Mountain West volleyball championship tournament Thursday in Fort Collins.
At the beginning of the first set, UNLV jumped out to an early lead, 11-7, just as the team did throughout the entire season. But Utah State flipped the momentum the rest of the first half and proceeded to go on two runs of four points each to finish the first set on top, 25-18.
Again in the second set, UNLV had an early advantage, leading 10-4. However, the errors plagued the Rebels. Unable to hold off the Aggies, the Rebels lost the second set 23-25. UNLV doubled the errors of Utah State in the second, which a majority transpired after the halfway mark.
Down 2-0, the Rebels struggled and did not lead once in the third set. UNLV only recorded eight kills in the final set. Utah State completed the sweep by closing out the third, 25-21.
The Aggies went on to claim the Mountain West tournament championship with a 3-1 win over San Jose State on Friday. With the loss, UNLV will have to wait and see if they are selected in the NCAA Tournament field as an at-large team on Sunday night.
Through UNLV volleyball’s 30 games, the team recorded an impressive 26-4 overall record and a 17-1 conference record, which earned UNLV the Mountain West regular season crown. The Rebels closed out the regular season on a 17-game winning streak.
The team’s successes were fueled by outstanding individual performances as the Mountain West recognized several members of the program. First and foremost, fifth-year head coach Dawn Sullivan was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year for the second time.
In addition, Isabel Martin was selected as the Mountain West Player of the Year, and Jhenna Gabriel was named the Mountain West Newcomer of the Year. Three members of the Rebels’ roster made the All-Conference First Team: Martin, Gabriel and Gabrielle Arretche-Ramos. Jordyn Freeman was also listed as an Honorable Mention honoree.