By Brandon Cruz
Friday, Sept. 9, marked the start of the two-day Wolf Pack volleyball tournament, taking place inside the Virginia Street Gym. The women’s volleyball team resembled a freight train with no brakes, finishing off its sweep of the tournament after five hard-fought sets against UC Davis.
Nevada’s first game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs was a thriller on all accounts. After going down two sets to none, it looked as if Nevada might waive the white flag. But just like Rudy Ruettiger, the Pack refused to take no for an answer. The Pack would go on to win the next three sets due to key contributions from Madison Morell, Madison Foley, Lyndsey Anderson and Kathryn Groenweghe. Morell recorded 18 kills, putting her at 10th in career points in the Nevada record books with 999. Foley registered her second double-double of the season with 16 kills and 14 digs. Groenweghe added another 12 kills on the night, and Anderson is now in the top 10 for the Nevada record books with an extravagant 45-assist performance.
After the team’s spectacular performance against Gonzaga, Nevada played Southern Utah University the following day. The first set was a neck-and-neck battle as each team traded blow after blow. After three lead changes, Morell finished the set off for Nevada. The Wolf Pack would go on to win the next set, and SUU would answer, putting the match at 2-1 Nevada. The final set started off in the Thunderbirds’ favor, but once Nevada took the lead the Pack wouldn’t give it back, finishing the fourth set 25-15 and ultimately dispelling any hope of a Thunderbirds comeback. Morell and Groenweghe led the way with 15 and 14 kills, respectively, along with 15 impressive digs from Foley.
The Wolf Pack would only receive a few hours of rest before the team stormed back onto the court to take on a worthy opponent in the UC Davis Aggies. The entire contest was a nail-biter, keeping every fan on the edge of their seat. While the Wolf Pack was up 23-21 at one point, the Aggies would rally to take the first set 23-25. Set two would go in favor of Nevada, as the team downed UC Davis 25-18. But just when you think the Pack is gaining momentum, its train gets derailed by the Aggies, who won the third set 25-22. Although many teams would be discouraged at this point, according to Morell, when games aren’t going their way, it’s a “regroup and not dwell on it” kind of attitude. Nevada did just that and went on to win the fourth and fifth sets. Morell, Foley and Groenweghe would combine for a total of 52 kills and 26 digs, extending the Pack’s winning streak to seven with no signs of slowing down.
Over the past six seasons, this is Nevada’s best start since its 2010-2011 campaign when the Pack went 6-3 over the course of the first nine games. The Pack is currently sitting at 7-2, so trust Foley when she says, “It feels like we’re going to win. We’re winners.”
Brandon Cruz can be reached at neil@sagebrussh