In Reversal, UNLV Upsets the Upset Queens Utah to Advance

  0 Braden Keith | December 03rd, 2016 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News, Pac 12

Match Stats

This season seemed almost like a season of destiny for the Utah Utes. They weren’t good enough to earn home field advantage in any round of the NCAA tournament, but were so good on the road that it seemed they almost might prefer the road – where they’ve had record-setting success this season.

But on Friday, at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse, where Utah had already won once this season, the UNLV Rebels pulled off an upset with a controlled 3-1 win.

Middle Blocker Bree Hammel led UNLV offensively with 18 kills on a .298 average. That’s her second-highest hitting percentage of the season in games where she had as many kills. She set the tone early for UNLV when she had 8 kills in an opening set where UNLV as a team hit .425.

After that 1st set, Hammel cooled ever-so-slightly offensively, but she picked up her defensive game in its stead. She had no blocks in the first set, chipped in on 7 blocks (6 helpers and 1 solo) in the game, including 3 in the second set on Utah’s star hitter Adora Anae.

In spite of a big defensive effort by UNLV at the net (13 blocks to just 8 for Utah), Anae still managed 21 kills – the 15th time she’s had 20-or-more this season. That included 8 of her own in the first set. Utah had 63 kills, just one less than UNLV, but did so with 24 errors, 7 more than UNLV.

Two of the three Mountain West teams in this tournament advanced on Friday – besides UNLV, Boise State advanced with a win over 20th-ranked Western Kentucky, while Colorado State lost to Kentucky.


Press Releases

Courtesy UNLV Athletics:

PROVO, Utah ( – The UNLV volleyball team claimed its first win in NCAA Tournament competition Friday with a 3-1 triumph (27-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-20) over the No. 22 Utah Utes at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse. With the victory, the Rebels advance to the second round and will face the host and No. 10 BYU Cougars (No. 13 national seed), who defeated the Princeton Tigers in straight sets, Saturday at 6:00 pm PT (7:00 pm MT).

The victor of Saturday’s match will advance to the Regional Semifinals at the University of Texas on December 9-10. Creighton and No. 12 national seed Michigan have already made plans for the Lone Star State while the winner of SMU-Texas will complete the foursome.

The Rebels (24-7), who are in the midst of their second trip to postseason play, outhit the Utes (20-12) by 52 points (.305 to .253) primarily from a seven-error differential. Both teams attempted 154 attacks; however, UNLV was able to register one more kill (64-63) and commit seven fewer errors (17-24).

The Scarlet & Gray opened the contest with a .425 hitting efficiency backed by 20 kills against three errors in 40 swings. UNLV was able to muster up two more .300-plus sets with a .308 (15-3-39) in the second and a .371 (17-4-35). Unfortunately, the Rebels only hit .125 (12-7-40) in the third, which was won by Utah. The Utes, on the other hand, topped out with a .333 in the first set, but stayed within a range of .143 (second) to .289 (third) the remainder of the bout.

The match was a seesaw affair that featured 35 ties and 11 lead changes. The first and fourth sets held the majority of both figures. The opening stanza had 15 ties and six lead changes while the fourth had 14 and three, respectively. The second and third frames only had one lead change apiece, but there were two ties in the former and four in the latter.

“I think we felt good coming in because we felt our matchups were good,” noted head coach Cindy Fredrick. “We knew that (Adora) Anae would be phenomenal, and she is; but we felt like with everything else, my players could match up to that. I like the fact that I’ve got a 5-1 and a setter (Alexis Patterson) that attacks the ball. I like that we matched up Bree (Hammel) with Anae, because when we went in we said `It’s a battle between you two’. I think that they (UNLV) answered that battle. What I liked was that Sadie (Stutzman) came through with some tremendous, tremendous plays, and Alexis found her and got her open, and thanks to also our middle blockers who did a great job. Sadie took total advantage of that and just used the blockers and put the ball away. I think they (Utah) were so focused on Bree and they wanted to shut her down, but I don’t think they did and everybody else added to that.”

Courtesy Utah Athletics:

PROVO, Utah – The Utah Utes’ 2016 season came to a close with a 3-1 loss (25-27, 21-25, 25-19, 20-25) to the UNLV Rebels in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship Friday night at Smith Fieldhouse. The Utes, who were making its 13th NCAA Championship appearance, end the season with a 20-12 overall record.

Junior Adora Anae led the way with 21 kills, while fellow junior Carly Trueman added 15 kills and a match-best .400 hitting percentage. Anae’s 21 kills ranks second-most in school history for kills in a single match in the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Tawnee Luafalemana chipped in with 10 kills (.316 hitting percentage) and led the Utes at the net with five total blocks. Freshman Bailey Choy led Utah with 29 assists, while sophomore Jessie Openshaw tallied 23 assists in a return to her hometown of Provo. Freshman Brianna Doehrmann led Utah with 18 digs and Anae tallied 13 digs on the evening for her 21st double-double of the season.

Anae and Trueman combined for 15 of Utah’s 19 kills in the first set, but UNLV countered with eight kills from Bree Hammel and a .425 team hitting percentage to take the first set 27-25. Utah trailed by as many as four points early in the set before chipping away and taking its first lead, 12-11, on a block from sophomore Emma Kirst. Both teams traded points throughout the remainder of the set but UNLV closed out the frame winning three of the final four points.

Utah trailed by as many as six points, down 20-14 late in the second set, which forced the Utes to call what was its final timeout of the frame. Utah came out of the break with a pair of kills from Luafalemana and a service ace from freshman Bailey Choy, then later got back within two points of the Rebels on a kill from Anae. UNLV called timeout, up 22-20, and it was enough to stop the momentum as Utah registered a service error out of the break. Utah won the next point on a kill from junior Eliza Katoa, but the Rebels closed the set winning the final two points to take the frame 25-21 and go up 2-0 in the match.

Despite UNLV opening the third set with a 6-3 run, the Utes managed to climb back into the set with a 10-4 run and following a service ace from Openshaw, Utah led 16-10 and forced the Rebels to call timeout. Both teams would trade points throughout the remainder of the set, but Anae helped close out the set registering three of Utah’s final four points to take the set 25-19.

Anae opened the fourth set with a kill for the Utes, but the two teams would trade point-for-point until a 3-0 run gave UNLV an 11-9 lead. Utah countered with a 3-0 run and later led 15-13 with a block from Luafalemana, but UNLV came back and after a 3-0 run, led 21-19 forcing Utah to call a timeout. The Utes tallied the next point with a kill from Trueman, but the Rebels closed out the set with a 4-0 run to take the frame 25-20 and the match 3-1.

“I give UNLV a lot of credit,” said Utah head coach Beth Launiere. “They blocked very well all night and did a great job of keeping us out of rhythm. They made plays. I thought we made a lot of plays as well, but there were a lot of little things that definitely caught us. I think the key thing was [UNLV] posed a lot of problems for us defensively.”

UNLV out-blocked the Utes 13.0 to 8.0 in the match. The Rebels hit .305 as a team and limited the Utes to a .253 hitting percentage. Utah had four service aces to UNLV’s zero, but the Utes ended the night with six service errors.

Hammel led UNLV with 18 kills, while Sadie Stutzman added 14 kills on the evening. Elsa DesCamps and Hammel paced the UNLV defense with seven total blocks each.

Leave a Reply


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!