By SUU ATHLETICS STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
For Iron County Today
MESQUITE, Nev. – The Thunderbird volleyball team opened their season with an exhibition competition at the Rising Star Sports Ranch in Mesquite, Nevada on Aug. 14 against the UNLV Rebels. The Thunderbirds and Rebels played five sets, with UNLV claiming four of the five.
The Thunderbirds scored the first point of the match and held the lead until UNLV took their first one at 9-8. The remainder of the set was a back-and-forth affair, but the Rebels were able to close the set out on a five-point run and claim the opening set 25-21.
UNLV got hot in the second set, jumping out to a 5-1 set lead. The Rebels were able to hold a sizable lead for the entire set, closing it out 25-17.
The Thunderbirds hit their stride in the third set. They started on a 4-1 run before UNLV answered to take a 8-7 advantage. The Thunderbirds answered back with a 6-2 run of their own to take a 13-10 lead. After a big Thunderbird run, SUU was able to run away with the set and took it 25-19.
Late in the fourth set the Thunderbirds found themselves down 24-21, but used a 4-point run to take a 25-24 lead. Unfortunately for SUU, the Rebels went on a 3-0 run to claim the fourth set 27-25. UNLV took the fifth and final set 15-12.
“I think we all had a lot of fun and it was a great way to get all of our nerves out,” Janet Kalaniuvalu said following her first collegiate competition. “I feel like we all did good, but there’s just a few things we need to get fixed before we get into regular season play.”
Kalaniuvalu led the Thunderbirds with 21 kills. Macky Fifita finished the match with 14 kills.