From the desk of Samuel Feldman
Mountain West Conference
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Four Mountain West women’s volleyball teams will participate in postseason play in 2018, led by Colorado State, which is making its 24th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. In addition, Fresno State, UNLV and Wyoming earned bids to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC).
Colorado State is traveling to Pullman, Washington, to face Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a match that will be played on Friday, Nov. 30 at 4 p.m. PT. The Mountain West 2018 Player of the Year, Katie Oleksak,will lead the Rams against Tennessee, which received an at-large bid in the tournament. The winner of the contest advances to the second round on Saturday against the winner of No. 16 seeded Washington State vs. Northern Arizona match. Saturday’s contest would take place at 6 p.m. PT.
Colorado State secured its 15th league title and became the MW’s automatic qualifier in 2018 behind a 15-3 league record. The Rams played five NCAA tournament teams this season, facing Michigan, Florida State, Colorado, Illinois and Cincinnati. CSU’s head coach, Tom Hilbert, who is the 2018 MW Coach of the Year, has led CSU to a 20-21 record in the NCAA Tournament and has won 14-of-22 first-round matches.
Both UNLV and Wyoming are hosting the first two rounds of the NIVC tournament, with four schools at each site.
Fresno State, which finished second in the Conference with a program-record 13 league wins, will play its first match of NIVC tournament in Las Vegas, on Thursday, Nov. 29 against UC Santa Barbara. The Bulldogs will face a UCSB team that won its last three matches of the regular season and finished with a 17-11 overall record. Fresno State’s Madelyn Halteman,Taylor Slover and Haile Watson earned All-MW honors in 2018, while sophomore libero Reagan Leonard earned Honorable Mention honors.
UNLV will host UC Irvine in the first round of the NIVC on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. PT. The contest pits the Rebels against the third place Big West finisher Anteaters. Under first-year head coach Dawn Sullivan, UNLV went 19-11 overall with a 10-8 league record. UNLV is led by sophomore All-Conference selection Mariena Hayden, who garnered a league-best 483 kills in 2018 for a 4.35 kills per set clip. She is one service ace shy of tying for fifth all-time in the MW.
The Wyoming Cowgirls will host Utah Valley, Portland and Northern Colorado for the first two rounds of the NIVC. On Thursday night (Nov. 29) in the first round of the NIVC, the Cowgirls will face Utah Valley at 6:30 p.m. PT. Wyoming finished third in the MW standings and is led by All-Conference selections Jackie McBride and Reed Copeland. Copeland needs seven block solos to become the MW all-time leader, while two more would make her second all-time.
The second round of the NIVC takes place on Friday, Nov. 30.