Team looks to extend conference streak against UNLV

By By Bubba Brown

By Bubba Brown

Fresh off Friday’s victory over rival BYU, Utah volleyball looks to push its conference record to 4-0 when the team heads to Las Vegas to take on UNLV tonight.

Utah is 9-5 on the season and riding a 17-game conference winning streak dating back to last September. UNLV is 3-8 on the year, but has won two of its first four conference matches, defeating Wyoming 3-2 and Air Force 3-0, but falling to Colorado State 3-0 and San Diego State 3-2.

Senior outside hitter Cinthia Silva said the team’s focus is key.
“I think we’ve done a good job of keeping focused in conference games,” she said. “We know we have to be ready to play our best.”

The match will feature the reigning Mountain West Conference Co-Players of the Week squaring off. Utah’s junior opposite hitter Karolina Bartkowiak earned her share of the award by bashing a career-high 22 kills with a .333 hitting efficiency to go along with 17 digs against BYU. UNLV’s Cursty Jackson had 18 kills for a .552 hitting percentage in addition to five digs and four blocks against Wyoming, earning both players honors for last week’s performances.

Jackson, a sophomore middle blocker had nine kills and five blocks in the sweep of Air Force. She capped off the week with 18 kills for a .387 hitting mark and six blocks in a losing effort against San Diego State.

UNLV has three players averaging more than two kills per set. Jackson has collected 2.77 kills per set on the year as the Rebels’ offensive leader. Junior outside hitter Sara Nehf is next on the team with 2.46 kills per set, and senior middle blocker Erin Greenwood has averaged 2.10 kills per set.

Statistically, the Rebels’ greatest strength is blocking, the only category where they rank as high as sixth in the Mountain West. Once again, Jackson is at the top for UNLV, as she leads the team with 1.03 blocks per set, which ranks eighth in the conference. Greenwood has averaged .85 blocks per set and senior middle blocker Samantha Noland is third on the team with .59 blocks per set.

The Rebels were picked to finish sixth in the preseason Mountain West Coaches Poll.
The Utes have just a 2-4 record in matches away from home, a trend they will look to reverse against the Rebels.

Last season, Utah won both matches against UNLV, notching a 3-0 victory at Crimson Court and a 3-1 win on the road. Utah owns an overwhelming all-time lead in the series, 26-3.

The match will be televised live on The Mtn. at 7:30 p.m. Utah has not lost a televised match since it lost to UNLV in the MWC championship match in 2007.

Following tonight’s action, the Utes will come back home to face Weber State University in their final nonconference matchup of the season.

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