By Nicole Skow

The Nevada volleyball team searched for its first win of conference play this past weekend but came up empty-handed.

This past week, Nevada traveled to Wyoming and Colorado to take on the Cowgirls and the number 10 nationally ranked Rams.  Searching for its first win, the Wolf Pack came up short for the eighth week in a row.  Both opponents swept Nevada, three sets to none.

The Wolf Pack took on the Wyoming Cowgirls to start the trek.  Wyoming managed to control the first set.  The closest the score got was when Nevada tied it 3-3 with a kill by junior Tessa Lea’ea.  Despite some great plays from the Nevada front lines, Wyoming split the blockers and found the ground to take the win.

The Pack managed to put up what looked like more of a fight in the second set.  Points went back and forth, featuring nine ties and five lead changes before the Cowgirls went on a four point run to create some distance.  Nevada closed the gap to three points before it committed five errors to set the score 17-24.  With freshman Madison Morell at the line to serve, another error would send the Pack back to the drawing board as it went down 0-2 in sets.

“For me, it’s pretty difficult (to let the errors go),” Morrell said.  “I hold on to them pretty tightly, but it’s one of the things I’m working on.  You just have to worry about the next point.  If you dwell on a point for five points, you’re down five points.  You need to move on.”

In the third and final set, Wyoming controlled the tempo and momentum straight from the get-go.  The Pack stood no chance to the Cowgirls as it seemed like every ball hit the floor before the backline could reach it.  With the score at 15-24, history repeated itself with an attack error from Morell sending Nevada to another loss.

Lea’ea led both teams with 12 kills, while sophomore Sam Willoughby followed with eight.  Setters Lyndsey Anderson and Dana Holt posted 18 and 13 assists, as sophomore libero Kara Kasser and freshman defensive specialist Madison Thorpe each had eight kills and seven digs.

“We got our mind ready,” Lea’ea said.  “Right now, confidence is really low on the team especially with our record, so I guess its just talking to each other, motivating each other and working hard in practice to get our confidence up and be ready for the match.”

Nevada had bigger concerns as it faced #10 Colorado State the following Saturday.  It looked to build on how it played the Rams when CSU came to Reno.  Nevada pushed Colorado to four games and hoped to force a game five this time around.

Unfortunately, the Pack didn’t win a set as the Rams continued its perfect season.  In the first set, the Pack managed to build a lead with kills from Lea’ea and four errors from Colorado’s front lines.  The Rams charged back, and some back-and-forth play tied it up at 18-18.  After going on an 8-1 run, Colorado took the set.

The second set played out in a similar fashion with the end score being the same result as the first.  This time, there was no back and forth play.  The Rams led the entire set before a kill from its outside hitter cemented the second set victory.

Nevada looked to pull off what it did five weeks ago and force a game four, but Colorado wouldn’t let the Pack gain any serious momentum.  After taking the lead back at 9-9, the Rams never looked back.  The Pack had a couple good runs to bridge the gap to one point until the Rams offense went off.  With two kills and three Nevada errors, the Rams went up 19-24 before another outsider pounded the ball into Nevada’s face, cementing the win and ensuring their perfect record.

Despite the loss, Lea’ea led all teams for the second set in a row with 13 kills.  The rest of Nevada’s offense had a quiet night with Morell having the next highest number of kills with six.  Anderson had 17 assists while Holt added nine.  The Pack’s backline had no outstanding stars as Thorpe led all players with five digs while four other players tied for second with four digs.

Looking forward to the next two weeks, head coach Ruth Lawanson hopes to take advantage of the four games at home and build on what the team did at Colorado.

“(We want) to build on what we did at Colorado State,” she said.   “The scores don’t indicate it, but we actually played pretty well against them.  We pushed them.  They just didn’t walk in there and roll the ball out and beat us.  They had to earn I what they did.”

Nevada gets to come home for two weeks.  This week the Pack will face the San Diego State University Aztecs on Thursday and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels on Saturday.  The Aztecs are currently 7-7 in conference play after dropping three sets to Fresno State University while the Rebels are 9-5 in conference play after falling to San Jose State University in a five set dual.

Nicole Skow can be reached at sports@nevadasagebrush.com.