UNLV volleyball coach Cindy Fredrick started the season knowing she would need time to whip her young team into top form.
Considering the strides the Rebels have made, that task might not take as long as she originally thought.
Fredrick’s squad battled into the title match Saturday of the UNLV Invitational at Cox Pavilion by beating Southern Utah and Eastern Washington before dropping a 3-2 decision to Cal State Northridge in the final.
“Considering everything, I think things went pretty well,” said Fredrick, whose team improved to 5-4. “We lost our outside hitter (Elisa Brochado) early, so it was pretty tough. But everyone else rallied and did a good job.”
Brochado, a junior transfer, suffered a knee injury in the tournament opener against Southern Utah and will undergo an MRI examination this week.
Sophomore Madeline Westman, seventh in the Mountain West Conference with a .305 hitting percentage, led UNLV with 19 kills and three blocks in the final match. Freshman Daryn Glenn added 20 digs and 12 kills, and sophomore Stephanie Thelan logged her third double-double of the season with 53 assists and 15 digs.
“Maddy connected well,” Fredrick said. “I was glad to see that. If we can get our middle hitters firing, we’re going to be in great shape.”
The Rebels, who started the season with three straight losses, have won five of six matches since the opening weekend.
Despite the positive signs, Frederick said her squad still has plenty of work to do.
“We’re not anywhere near where we need to be,” she said. “We’re doing some good things, but we’re letting some easy things get away from us.”
The team will remain at home this weekend, when it hosts the UNLV Classic at Cox Pavilion. The Rebels will open against Fresno State at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with matches against San Francisco and Baylor on Saturday.
■ WOMEN’S SOCCER — The Rebels endured another tough weekend, dropping road games to Pacific and UC Davis.
UNLV, which has scored five goals in eight games, fell to 2-5-1.
Pacific (3-3) struck early with a goal in the 10th minute and scored again just before halftime to beat the Rebels 2-0 on Friday. UC Davis (5-1) also scored two first-half goals to hand UNLV another 2-0 loss Sunday.
Rebels sophomore goalkeeper Kylie Wassell, who logged five saves in the two games, moved to second in the MWC with a 4.29 saves-per-game average.
UNLV, which managed six shots on goal Friday and 10 on Sunday, has been shut out six times.
The Rebels will return home this weekend to host the UNLV Nike Invitational at Johann Memorial Field. They will open against Seattle at 4:30 p.m. Friday and finish with a 1 p.m. game Sunday against Hawaii.
■ CROSS COUNTRY — Junior Lauren Petersen placed sixth Saturday to pace the Rebels in the UNR/Jim Vanden Huevel Twilight Classic at Reno.
Petersen finished the 4-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 20 seconds. UNLV senior Ali Bartosch finished in 15:36 to place 11th, and freshman teammate Amanda Berg took 14th in 15:58.
The Rebels will be on the road again Saturday, traveling to San Diego for the Aztec Invitational.