Nevada Volleyball has gotten off to a strong 11-3 start this season, beginning conference play 1-1. They finished 10-2 in non-conference play, the best 12-game start since 2001 when they went 11-1.
This team has previously delivered success heading into conference play last season, going 7-4 early. Nevada volleyball couldn’t replicate their early-season success, finishing 1-17 in conference play last year.
After matching last year’s win total in conference play this season, the question still arises—and for head coach Lee Nelson—can this team compete in the Mountain West this season?
Numbers could tell the story for Nevada volleyball.
Offensively, Nevada has been better in its first 14 games than it was last year. They have tallied 698 kills—which ranks second in the Mountain West—along with 13.17 kills per set and a .220 hit percentage.
Last season, the Wolf Pack struggled in these categories accumulating 637 total kills, a .196 hitting percentage and 12.51 kills per set.
One of the keys to the puzzle this season has been the full emergence of junior Kayla Afoa.
The 2018 All-Mountain West Honorable Mention honoree is second in the conference with 195 kills, 228 total points, 16 aces and is third in kills per set with 3.68. Afoa also has notched a double-double in eight of the first 14 games this season. Additionally, the five-foot nine-inch junior has totaled 194 digs and 3.66 digs per set, both ranking in the top 10 in the conference.
Nevada has been stout on both sides of the net this season. They sit atop the Mountain West with 16.51 digs per set—1.39 more than anyone else in the conference—including 875 total digs. They also have 2.47 blocks per set and 131 total blocks, both ranking in the top three in the conference.
If Nevada can sustain this success on both ends, they can make some serious noise in the Mountain West.
Matt Hanifan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports