Weber volleyball takes a gamble in Las Vegas

Weber State Wildcats play Utah Valley Wolverines in volleyball game in the fall of 2021.

Weber State University’s volleyball team faced off in the Rebel Classic over Labor Day Weekend, a 4-team invitational tournament hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The Rebels invited the Wildcats, St. John’s University and the University of Miami to the tournament.

The Wildcats began the tournament against the Rebels on Sept. 1. Weber State started the first set claiming the first four points, including an ace from Macy Sumrall. The Rebels would bring it back to a 10–7 score, but an emphatic spike from Wildcat Ashley Gneiting started off a big run for Weber, as they eventually won the first set 25–17.

The second set was Rebel-dominated early, opening up a nine-point lead on the Wildcats, 20–11. Weber was able to crawl back into it, outscoring the rebels 9–4 to bring it within five points, but a clean kill from UNLV’s Chloe Thomas secured the second set for the Rebels, 25–20.

The Wildcats and Rebels battled to a 25–25 deuce in the third set before back-to-back errors against Weber State deflated the ‘Cats. With seven of the last eight Rebel points coming from errors, they claimed a 2–1 set lead going into the fourth set.

The fourth set was as intense as it gets early on, neither team claiming a two-point lead until the Rebels jumped to a 9–7 lead. It wasn’t until the Rebels took an eventual 19–16 lead that there was a three-point difference between the teams. The Wildcats didn’t go out without a fight though, claiming four points in a row to bring the score within one, but it was too little too late as a service error gave the Rebels their 25th point, set and match win, 3–1.

Makayla Sorenson and Kate Standifird led the Wildcats in digs with 13 apiece. Standifird also led the team with six block assists and 35 assists. Three Wildcats tied for the most kills, with Dani Richins, Emma Magnum and Saane Katoa all finishing with 10. The biggest statistical difference between UNLV and Weber State came from their attack percentage, with the Rebels getting 13 more kills on only six more attempts.

Weber State was back in action the next day against St. John’s “Red Storm.” This match was ultimately defined by the Weber State defense, as the Red Storm was unable to get a kill in the first two sets. Weber State won the first set 25–18 and the second set 25–15.

In the third set, the Red Storm raged back, hitting into 14 kills and two aces en route to a 25–14 set win.

The fourth set began the same way, with St. John’s in the driver seat until Weber State junior Dani Richins served three consecutive aces and took the lead 20–19. With the newfound momentum, the Wildcats cruised to a 25–21 set and 3–1 match win.

“It’s about getting better everyday. We got better than we were yesterday, it’s not so much about getting in the win column, it’s about playing a decent level of volleyball,” Head Coach Jeremiah Larsen said post-game

The final game of the weekend tournament was against the University of Miami. The Hurricanes resembled the biggest threat of the tournament, having a perfect set record on the season going into the match, and receiving votes for the top-25 poll among volleyball teams in the country.

In the first set, the Hurricanes started off with a bang, scoring the first six points and continuing on to a 10-4 lead.

The Wildcats chipped away at the Hurricanes’ lead and eventually took a 15–14 lead with an attack error on the Miami side. The lead didn’t last long, as the Hurricanes roared back with five straight points, opening up what became an insurmountable lead as Miami took set one.

A back-and-forth second set had the teams tied at 15 apiece, but between a few Miami service errors and four kills of their own, the Wildcats took set two over the Hurricanes 25–23, the first set loss of the year for Miami.

The third and fourth sets were all about Miami. The third set included Miami securing and holding a 10-point lead for a 25–15 win. The fourth and final set was closer, but still ended with a seven-point victory for Miami with 25–18.

Volleyball’s road trip continues into California with a match against UC Irvine on Sept. 8.