After splitting the first two games of the season on the road, the Nevada Volleyball team (2-4, 0-0 MWC) returned home to host the San Francisco Dons last Tuesday before heading to Spokane Washington to play three games in the Gonzaga Invitational over the weekend. The team graduated five key contributors including All-Conference Team honoree Madison Morrell and All-Conference Honorable Mention honoree, Lyndsey Anderson.
This year, under third-year head coach Lee Nelson, the team has been led by veterans Madison Foley, Shayla Hoeft, and Ayla Fresenius. An influx of freshmen led by Kayla Afoa and Sam Hayward have been depended on to fill in for the departures over the off-season.
Vs. San Francisco
In the season opener, Nevada went on the road to play San Francisco. The Dons were able to defeat the Wolf Pack in straight sets. While each set was competitive, Nevada was unable to overcome the offensive firepower of their opponent. San Francisco was able to score more kills (43 to 39) and assists (37 to 33) while averaging a higher hitting percentage (24.9% to 19%). In Tuesday’s matchup, the Wolf Pack was able to avenge their season-opening loss by defeating the Dons three sets to one (25-19, 27-25, 23-25, 25-21).
This time around, the Wolf Pack turned the tables on the Dons by winning in the kills and assist department. Nevada scored 15 more kills and assisted 13 more times than their opponent.
A key 7-1 run in the first set gave the Wolf Pack a commanding 17-9 lead which allowed for them to run away with the opening set.
The second set was tightly contested. Tied at 25 apiece, the Wolf Pack capitalized on a Hayward kill and an attack error by their opponent to eke out set point.
While the Wolf Pack dropped the third set, they were able to close out their opponents in a back and forth fourth set by running off a decisive 6-2 run to close out the game.
Hoeft (15 kills), Foley (11 kills), and Fresenius (10 kills) led the balanced attack on offense. On defense, Afoa dug out a match-high 24 balls.
Vs. Arizona State
In the first game of the Gonzaga Tournament, the Wolf Pack fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils. Despite winning the first set by a score of 25-23, Nevada was unable to ride the momentum in the following sets.
The Sun Devils tied the match following a 25-23 second set wherein they closed it out with a 3-1 run. They followed that set up by handily taking the third set 17-25. Down two sets to one, Nevada played the fourth set close with the score tied at 17.
However, Arizona State proved to be too much as they closed out the match on an 8-2 run, erasing any comeback attempt by Nevada.
Peighton De Von led the Wolf Pack in kills with 18. Hoeft and Foley also scored double digit kills with 12 and 11 respectively.
Vs. Portland State
Following Nevada’s loss to Arizona State, the Pack looked to redeem itself against a competitive Viking’s team. However, Nevada would misstep in the first two sets losing set one 25-17 and set two 25-23, leaving the team at an early disadvantage for the remainder of the match.
With the first two sets going in Portland State’s favor, set three had a different kind of feeling than the previous two. Nevada found itself up early 1-4. Portland State appeared to be playing catch-up for a great deal of the match, always one step behind Nevada. Finally, the Vikings found itself down 11-19 and something clicked. The Vikings went on an 8-point run knotting the game up at 19. Nevada lost its edge, and the set became a tug-of-war. Fortunately for the Pack’s sake, they would take the set by two, ultimately winning 23-25.
After the Pack’s set three win, the Vikings came back with a vengeance finishing the game in set four, 25-20. Pack Sophomore Camille Davey was the highlight of the game, having a career day with 20 digs.
The Pack’s game against Gonzaga went much like the team’s entire tournament. The Pack didn’t take a single set against the Bulldogs, with set three being their most contentious set.
Nevada’s loss to Gonzaga can in large part be boiled down to the numbers. Nevada scored 43 points in comparison to Gonzaga’s 60 points, 33 kills to Gonzaga’s 48 and 30 assists to the Bulldogs 47. The only category that the Pack trumped the Bulldogs in was blocks, only edging the Bulldogs out by one extra block. Freshman Kayla Afoa took charge for Nevada recording a career-high nine kills, along with five digs.
The Pack continues play in Honolulu, HI on Sept. 7, against Baylor for the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge.