Nevada can’t finish against UCLA | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada can’t finish against UCLA

THOMAS RANSON
Appeal News Service

Self destruction and disappointment are just two ways to describe the Nevada volleyball team’s blown chance in upsetting a Top 25 team.

With six match points in the fifth game, all Nevada needed was one point. Instead, 13th ranked UCLA outscored Nevada 7-0 to win the thrilling finale to the Sands Regency/SBC Tournament Saturday night at the Virginia Street Gym.

The Bruins (3-0) patiently waited for Nevada (1-3) to make four errors before winning 30-26, 22-30, 30-26, 29-31 and 16-14 in front of a crowd of 503.

“It’s probably one of the most disappointing losses I’ve witnessed,” Nevada coach Devin Scruggs said. “We did everything we needed to do except come down to the very last play. We need to figure out a way to win.”

After coming from behind to tie the fifth game, Nevada scored six unanswered points on Lindsay Holda’s serving. Teal Ericson recorded back-to-back kills and UCLA’s Colby Lyman landed her shot out to give Nevada its biggest lead of the game at 13-7. Lyman hit her next ball into the net giving Nevada a 14-9 lead.

After recording a career high 22 kills, Carly Sorensen’s two misplaced and blocked slams cut Nevada’s lead to 14-12. Salaia Salave’a slammed the ball into the net to tie the game and Tristin Johnson (formally Adams) reciprocated with a hit into the net giving the Bruins the tournament title.

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Nevada rallied from behind in the fourth game to set up its second five-game match of the year.

Deadlocked at 22, both teams battled with leads no greater than a point.

UCLA climbed to a two-point lead and faced match point twice when Johnson ran into Karly Sipherd on retrieving a Bruin kill.

“We couldn’t pull it off. It was like the national championship type of feeling,” Sipherd said.

Down 29-27, Erika Ryan launched a kill that deflected into the stands and Ericson followed with a game-tying kill.

Salave’a scored a point on Johnson’s assist and Nevada won on Kaitlin Sather’s wide kill. Johnson racked up 57 total assists.

“We had the upper hand and couldn’t finish them,” said Salave’a, who was named to the all-tournament team with Sorensen. “This time we lost it for ourselves. We choked under pressure. We weren’t calm enough. Like our coach said we needed to stay calm and play as if we’re down.”

Nevada held off a late rally in knocking off Eastern Kentucky 30-21, 30-18 and 30-27 Saturday afternoon.

Scruggs said the team’s poised emotions helped with consistency of holding leads, something Nevada struggled with in its two previous matches.

“I’m very pleased with just the way we played,” Scruggs said, “and I thought we were fluid and we played with good emotion. It was not too high or not too low.”

Johnson agreed with her coach about playing with emotion.

“Usually we’re kind of up and down, but today we bounced back,” said Johnson, who finished the match with 38 assists. “We wanted it really bad. It’s good to get your first win.”

Nevada spread the ball offensively which gave the opportunity to keep Eastern Kentucky off balance. Nevada recorded 51 kills in the match, 20 more than its opponent and ended with a percentage of .256.

Salave’a led the offensive attack with 18 kills, tying Sorensen for the most this season, while Sorensen contributed 10.

Sorensen said the team played consistent unlike its match against San Diego Friday night.

“We played very consistent and were very fluid,” Sorensen said. “It’s how we need to play all the time.”

The 2003 Fallon grad said Nevada didn’t change anything in preparation for the match, but the focus was on attitude.

“We came in with a very positive attitude,” said Sorensen, who graduated with Johnson. “Our hitting was much better.”

Defensively, Nevada combined for 15 assisted blocks and forced the Colonels to a .034 kill percentage. Before the third game, Eastern Kentucky’s kill percentage was a goose egg.

“Our defense was much better than last night (Friday),” Sorensen added.