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Under new head coach Kathy Olivier, the Lady Rebels made a six-game win improvement last season and made it to the semifinals of the conference tournament for the first time in four years. With a large number of returners and one of the top recruiting classes in the MWC, Olivier said she’s confident the Rebels’ positive attitude can carry them through the season.

“The success this team had at the end of last year has them excited about the upcoming season,” Olivier said. “They gained the confidence that we can beat any team at this level, and that has really helped build a good foundation for us to continue to work on and improve this year.”

Although UNLV had several key upsets last season over New Mexico, Utah and TCU, the team’s main goal will be to play at a more consistent level throughout the season.

However, with UNLV losing five seniors8212;three of them starters8212;the squad is likely to struggle in three-point production. Last season’s seniors had half of the team’s 3s. The loss of the seniors could also prove to be a problem on defense, a traditional weak point for the Rebels.

The team hopes to fill the gap left by the seniors with sophomore forward Jamie Smith, the 2008-2009 MWC Freshman of the Year.

“We see Jamie being more of a leader this year,” Olivier said. “She’s worked so hard on her game, has come back this season stronger and quicker. She’s so proud to be a Lady Rebel, and that pride and her leadership qualities carry onto the court.”

Kelsey Price