In a rough weekend for Wolf Pack sports, the volleyball squad seemed to be the only team to return to Reno in good spirits.
In the first match of the Sacramento State tournament, the Wolf Pack were set to play the host school—Sacramento State. Nevada took a 10-9 lead off of a Kayla Afoa kill and would not look back winning the tightly contested set 25-23. Sacramento State kicked it into another gear to win the next three sets. In the second and third sets, the Hornets took commanding leads and never let the Wolf Pack come close enough to even sniff at winning the set. A 7-9 deficit was the closest Nevada came to the lead in the fourth and final set, before the Hornets pulled away with an easy 25-17 win.
The loss is the second consecutive year Nevada has lost to Sacramento State. Last year Nevada hosted the Hornets in Virginia Street Gym, losing in four sets 25-22, 21-25, 25-19 and 25-23.
The Wolf Pack recovered from the Friday night loss, by sweeping their Saturday games against Seattle University and UC Riverside.
The match against Seattle, the Wolf Pack swept the Redhawks 25-18, 25-18 and 25-19. In the first set, Nevada went on a four-point streak to extend their lead from 9-8 to 13-8 taking charge from then on. A slow start in the second set saw the Wolf Pack trail 4-0 early. With 15 points and trailing by two, Nevada scored ten of the last eleven points to win the set 25-18. Similar to the first set, Nevada pulled multiple three-point runs to secure a lead and win the match.
Nevada’s second match of the day against UC Riverside pushed the Wolf Pack to the limit. In a full five sets Nevada pulled out a win. Nevada won the first set 25-17 and the two teams would go back and forth in the next three sets forcing a winner take all fifth set. The Wolf Pack opened with a 4-0 lead and would keep that lead through the entirety of the set winning 15-9. In concerning news for the Wolf Pack, Jamila Minor did not play in the win against the Highlanders. Minor has been a key player for the Wolf Pack early in the season.
For the second consecutive tournament Kayla Afoa was named to the All-Tournament team. The sophomore tallied a career high 23 kills against UC Riverside -her previous career high being 18 kills she set the week before against Northern Illinois. Ashley Maki -another sophomore- joined Afoa on the All-Tournament team. Maki had eight aces against UC Riverside, a school record for aces in a single match.
Junior Dalyn Burns continued her good run of play as she led the team in assists in all three matches over the weekend -including 50 in the match against UC Riverside.
The two Saturday matches pushed the Wolf Pack’s record to 7-2, which is third in the Mountain West behind Wyoming and Boise State. Nevada has two more non-conference matchups -Thursday, Sept. 13, against Saint Mary’s and Saturday, Sept. 15, against Pacific- before starting conference play Sept. 20, against Colorado State.
Darion Strugs can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @dstrugs.