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Nevada Women’s Volleyball hosted the Wolf Pack Tournament in the Virginia Street Gym Sept. 14 to 16 where they took on the Montana State University Bobcats and University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears in their first home matches of the 2023 season. With a big crowd supporting them at home, the Wolf Pack went 1-1 overall against the two teams. 

“Our team was definitely super pumped up to be home and playing in front of our home crowd,” Sia Liilii, Nevada outside hitter, said. “The energy in the VSG is amazing!”

The Wolf Pack started their tournament against Montana State on Thursday night. 

Starting the tournament off strong, Nevada took the first match 3-1 against Montana State with many memorable plays. The last matchup between these two teams was in 2015 when Nevada swept the Bobcats 3-0. As both teams have grown, Nevada stayed on top and took the win once again. 

Lee Nelson, Nevada head coach, kept the starting line up the same throughout the sets as the team worked together to fulfill the win. 

In set one, neither team allowed each other to have more than a two-point lead up until the score was tied at 15-15. The set consisted of many of the same errors and strategies on both sides of the court, while both teams started to get comfortable with players’ hitting strategies. Montana State then gained a three point lead over Nevada and kept the lead until the end of the set where the Wolf Pack dropped set one to the Bobcats, 23-25. 

Going into set two, Montana State’s lead did not hinder Nevada. The leads in set two were more apparent compared to set one. Nevada started with a 4-1 lead with the help of Bella Snyder, middle blocker, with two blocks and a kill to start off the set. 

As the set went on, Nevada kept its plays strong and went into the first timeout of the game up 6-3. After the timeout, Montana State found a spot that worked for them on the court and the two teams began their battle leading off of each other. 

At 11-16, Montana had a five point lead on Nevada going into what could have been the last points of the set. However, the Pack pulled through and, with many blocks and kills, rose up to tie Montana State 16-16. 

Just as Montana State began to gain some momentum, Gabby McLaughlin, Nevada outside hitter, gained three points for the Wolf Pack from her two kills and service ace, putting Nevada back into the lead at 19-18. While this was not their last lead of the set, Montana State and Nevada fought to the end and were back tied at 21-21 at Nevada’s second timeout call of the set. 

Montana State caught a quick lead on Nevada after the timeout, but that didn’t last long, as the Wolf Pack took set two 25-22 against the Bobcats. 

The teams both had one set under their belts going into set three, which did not stop the momentum in the gym, for the fans or the players. 

Set three saw both teams play very consistently, knowing what the opponent was going to do next after going almost point for point in the sets prior. Throughout set three, there was a three point difference between the two teams until the end; Nevada did not let Montana State score after their twenty first point, making it yet another close set. Nevada took set three 25-21. 

Nevada’s momentum from winning set two filtered into set three, having them come out on top.

Nevada began to dominate on the court right from the start of the fourth set, not allowing Montana State to gain a lead on them throughout the set. Even with many delays, the Pack stayed strong and continued to go point after point staying in the lead. At 16-7, Nevada saw their highest lead of the tournament, 12 points above their opponents. 

Finishing out the set, the Wolf Pack took set four, finalizing their match win over Montana State 25-18, going 3-1 against the Bobcats. 

In match one of the Wolf Pack Tournament, Nevada had 54 kills, 18 blocks, seven aces and an overall hitting percentage of .172.

The leaders of the match include:

  • McLaughlin led the offense with 18 kills.
  • Liilii was second in kills at 17. 
  • Snyder led the defensive effort  with seven blocks.
  • Hikialani Kaohelaulii, Nevada libero, saved with 21 digs.

Later that weekend, on Sept. 16, Nevada took on the Cal Golden Bears in each team’s last game of the tournament.

Nelson kept the lineup the same as the match against Montana State.

Going into set one, the Wolf Pack’s confidence was high, shown by an ace from Snyder followed by a block from Jordan Schwartz, Nevada middle blocker. The Pack kept this momentum through the end of the set, never allowing Cal to get more than a three point lead until the last couple of points. Both teams kept each other within three points until they became tied again 19-19 later on into the set. Nevada needed six more points to take the opening set, but ended up dropping set one against Cal 21-25. 

Going into set two down 0-1, Nevada fought back. The Pack had multiple leads on Cal in set two, including a five point lead and never let Cal go up by more than a point.

Nevada’s leads in this set were important to secure the win against Cal in set two. As Cal began to catch up, the Wolf Pack was already on their way to win. Nevada took set two 25-23.

By set three, many long rallies began to be played out as both teams started to recognize hitting trends from either side. This set also had many delays of game with multiple timeouts and media timeouts to reward the teams with their correct points. With long sets played by the same girls subbing in and out, both teams use timeouts to strategically give their teams a rest before getting back onto the court. Lexi Applebach, Nevada’s defensive specialist states, 

“As a whole, I believe that timeouts help us regroup and reset together,” Lexi Applebach, Nevada defensive specialist said. “Our teammates on the sideline often jump in and give insight on in-game strategies and our coaching staff gives helpful pointers.”

Nevada and Cal stayed within three points to each other Nevada had a three point lead on Cal 16-13. Then, the Wolf Pack began to create some errors which led them to dropping set three 21-25 to Cal. 

By set four, the momentum on the court started to shift when Cal started taking the lead on Nevada in set four. The Packdropped set four 15-25, losing the match against Cal 3-1.

With high scoring sets for both teams, Nevada had 40 kills, 14 blocks, six aces and an overall hitting percentage of .139 against Cal. 

The leaders of the match include:

  • Liilii led the offense with 16 kills.
  • Schwartz led defense with 11 blocks.
  • Maeva Tehya, Nevada setter, made 28 assists.
  • Lexi Applebach, Nevada defensive specialist, saved with 12 digs. 

Nevada finished the Wolf Pack tournament with a 1-1 record, making their new overall record 4-7 going into conference play.

Nevada has another week of practice ahead of them before playing their next game at home on Sept. 21 against Mountain West conference rival, the New Mexico Lobos, in the Virginia Street Gym. 

Lexi Trent can be reached via email at or via twitter @LexiTrentUNRJ

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