Photo- Nikolai Kolupaev/Nevada Sagebrush
By Chris Boline
In a world full of sports rallying cries and slogans — “Play Like a Champion Today”, “Get Pumped”, “One Team, One Season” — I offer my own for the collective group of Wolf Pack fall sports: “Who do I trust? Me, that’s who!” For those of you not familiar with this quote, it’s from the Brian De Palma classic, “Scarface”.
While the hyper-masculine 1983 flick starring Al Pacino was initially met with a negative response, its legacy as one of the greatest rags-to-riches story is enormous. Of course some might find it ironic that a quote from a film that is incredibly violent linked to our fall sports, but on the contrary it is very appropriate. After losing some key athletes (cross country) and suffering another losing season (both volleyball and soccer) Nevada has to dig its heels in and brace itself for another year in the Mountain West.
However, with a mantra from Tony Montana in its back pocket the women of the Wolf Pack fall sports should only have to rely on themselves and their teammates to take a step forward this season.
Quite possibly the most visible of the autumn sports next to football, the volleyball team has struggled mightily the past couple of years (4-28 last year) and has not put together a winning season since the 2000’s. However there are some bright spots on Coach Ruth Lawanson’s squad. You can’t talk about the Nevada volleyball team without mentioning Tessa Lea’ea. The native of Stockton, Calif. has been the focal point of the Wolf Pack by leading the team in kills over the past two years (average of 321.5) and has started every match she has played in for Nevada (87 in total).
In addition to Lea’ea, Sam Willoughby has emerged as another potent weapon for the Wolf Pack. The junior was recently selected to the Mountain West All-Star women’s volleyball team and was the only player from Nevada selected. Willoughby averaged 2.41 kills and 2.87 points in her sophomore season and will be a key part this year if the team can turn around and instill some life back in the Virginia Street Gym. Prognostication: The Wolf Pack make some progress, but it’s not enough to net a winning season as Nevada still has a lot of ground to make up.
Similar to their Mackay Stadium roommates (football), the women’s soccer team struggled in their sophomore year in the Mountain West to a 5-11-4 record. While this mark might seem daunting to overcome, it actually might be more of an exaggeration as the squad tied four games in double overtime and lost another in the same time amount. Leading the way for the Wolf Pack are senior midfielders Chrisalyn Fonte (7 points last year and 20 starts) and Bobby Reilly (led team with five goals). In addition to the talented midfield, goalkeeper Kelsey Quintos will be relied on heavily to keep any opposing cockroaches out of the box. Prognostication: Despite losing forward Kori Disarufino to graduation, Nevada makes a charge into the deeper rounds of the Mountain West thanks to more well-rounded experience on the squad.
In the words of Tony Montana, “Say hello to my little friend.” As the most successful squad of last year’s fall semester (and the most under-the-radar), the cross country team will return five runners that saw vast improvements over the course of last year. The team was one of the most successful in recent memory as the Wolf Pack finished ninth at the NCAA Mountain Regionals, the highest finish in school history. While Nevada will lose Mountain West all-conference honoree Sam Diaz, the squad will return the majority of its skilled runners, including Reno High alum Demerey Kirsch who set a school record for the 6K with a time of 21:04. Prognostication: Despite the loss of Diaz, the Wolf Pack succeeds at the Mountain West Championships this season (where they were held to a disappointing seventh place finish last year) behind a balanced squad of upperclassmen
Chris Boline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.