UNLV Women’s Volleyball Enters NCAA Tournament Undefeated

  • April 14, 2021, 10:07 AM
  • Dominic Lavoie
UNLV Women’s Volleyball Enters NCAA Tournament Undefeated Lucas Peltier UNLV Volleyball team poses for a group picture after their last home game at the Cox Pavilion.
The Undefeated UNLV Women’s volleyball team faces Illinois State Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST

Led by third-year Head Coach and Mountain West Coach of the Year Dawn Sullivan, UNLV women’s volleyball earned the program’s first conference championship along with a perfect 12-0 record on the year, heading into the 2020-2021 NCAA Division 1 Tournament.

Previously, UNLV had finished no better than second place in the Mountain West. They finished second three times in school history, most recently in 2014.

Sullivan turned the program around when she took the reins in 2018, seeing a remarkable turnaround in the team’s record. After finishing 8-23 in the season prior to Sullivan arriving, the Lady Rebels skyrocketed to 22-12 in her first year as head coach.

Sullivan’s phenomenal 2018 season produced the largest improvement by an NCAA division team that year.

Sullivan continued to thrive with UNLV, driving the program to three straight postseason appearances, and two 20 win seasons. She is tied for the most ever 20 win seasons of any women’s volleyball coach in program history.

The Rebels’ 2020-21 campaign was no different.

Their 12-0 record delivered the program’s longest ever win streak, along with leading the conference in hitting percentage (0.306), assists per set (12.96), kills per set (14.31) aces per set (2.05), and digs per set (14.88). 

UNLV’s hitting percentage and aces per set ranks the team sixth nationally in their respective categories.

Standouts helping along the way were Mariena Hayden, Kate Brennan, and Macy Smith. Hayden was named Mountain West Player of the Year, and placed on the All-Conference First Team alongside Brennan and Smith.

Outside hitter Shelby Capllonch is the last of UNLV awardees, earning Honorable Mention status.

Looking ahead, the Rebels will face the 16-5 Illinois State Redbirds in the first round of the tournament.

The Redbirds enter the tournament with their momentum, as they carry a nine-game win streak into the first round.

The winner of the match will move on to the second round to play the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats.

Tune into ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app Wednesday at 4:00 pm PT to watch the Rebels in action.

Dominic Lavoie

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