UNLV junior Allison Davies is a ball-hawking safety. Senior Stephanie Thelen is a pass-first point guard.
No, they don’t play football or basketball, but those titles may best define their roles on the volleyball court.
At 5-foot-4, Davies is the shortest member of the Rebels but holds one of the most important roles. As the team’s libero, she’s the defensive captain on the court, helping position her teammates while anticipating the opponent’s every move.
“Volleyball’s such as fast sport,” she said. “You have so little time to react to what’s going on.”
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The quickest reaction for Davies on a play is usually when she’s digging up the big kill attempts from the other team, which means you’ll see her all around the court every match. She leads the team with 404 digs for the season, and finished with 429 last season, the seventh-best single-season total in team history.
Many of those 404 digs go to the 5-foot-11 Thelen, the team’s setter. Her job is to then place the ball in the right place for the attackers looking for kills. Thelen has 1,045 assists this season, and her 1,153 assists in 2011 were the sixth-most in team history for a season.
“I love having the control because I am touching the ball every single play,” she said.
As a team, UNLV has 1,270 total kills for the season. Davies and Thelen have combined for only 77 of those, but with only three players touching the ball in a sequence (four with a block attempt), the pair touches the ball more than any of their teammates.
“We both kind of work together to make the game work,” Thelen said.
The most successful sequences go like this: Davies dig –Thelen set assist — attacker kill.
“That’s us connecting. That’s us gelling as a team,” Davies said.
UNLV (15-11, 10-6 Mountain West), coming off a 3-0 road sweep of Nevada, hosts its final two home matches of the season against Utah State (18-9, 11-5) tonight at 7 p.m. at Cox Pavilion and Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Boise State (12-15, 6-11).
Tonight’s match against the Aggies is Mustache Appreciation & Alumni Night. The first 50 fans will get a free t-shirt while the next 100 will get a free bracelet. All alumni can receive 2-for-1 admission. Saturday afternoon’s match with Boise State is Senior Day with Thelen and fellow seniors Madeline Westman and Sekola Falemaka being honored before the first serve.
STORY AND VIDEO BY BARRY WONG