Boise State Closes with SDSU and UNLV
Senior Night is Saturday
What's Happening This Week
Boise State (15-13) closes the regular season this weekend when the Broncos, who are in sixth-place in the Mountain West with a 5-7 mark, host San Diego State (15-8, 8-4 MW) and UNLV (11-15, 3-9 MW) in two big contests for the Broncos. If they win both the blue and orange could potentially finish as high as fourth-place in the standings in its first season as a member of the conference. One win would clinch no worse than a sixth-place finish.
The action begins this Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain) when the San Diego State Aztecs bring their second-place (tied) standing into Bronco Gym for the second meeting of the year with Boise State. SDSU defeated the Broncos in three (25-15, 25-12, 25-23) on Oct. 15 in San Diego.
On Saturday night Boise State will close its first season as Mountain West members when the Broncos host the UNLV Rebels at 7:00 p.m. The Rebels, who play at Air Force on Thursday night, are currently two matches back of the Broncos in seventh-place overall. Boise State won the first encounter in Las Vegas on Oct. 13 in five sets (25-18, 19-25, 33-31, 20-25, 15-9). A win by the Broncos would complete their third sweep of the year in league play, as well as give them at least the No. six seed into next week's conference tournament.
Next Week: Mountain West Tournament
Next week Boise State will travel to its first Mountain West Tournament which is being held in Albuquerque, N.M., at the Johnson Center on the University of New Mexico's campus. The single-elimination tournament begins on Friday, Nov. 18 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 20, with the championship match played at 6:00 p.m. (Mountain).
A Quick Look at Boise State
As a Team
The Broncos swept Utah Valley (3-1) in a non-league contest and Air Force (3-0) at home last week as Boise State improved to 15-13 overall and 5-7 in league.
Offensively, the Broncos have hit the ball well at times with eight matches over .300, including a school record .585 (45-7-65) versus Texas Southern (Sept. 16). On the year Boise State is hitting .219 (5th MW). The Broncos average 12.85 kills per set (4th in MW), 12.12 assists (3rd in MW) and 1.19 service aces (5th MW).
Defensively, Boise State averages 14.12 digs per set (4th in MW), 1.94 blocks (5th in MW), while holding opponents to a .208 hitting percentage (6th in MW).
Boise State has won eight three-set matches and is 8-6 overall in contests decided in three sets. They are 7-7 in sets that extend to four or more, 4-3 in four sets and 3-4 in five sets.
The Broncos have played well on the road this year going 11-9 (6-7 away, 5-2 neutral) and are currently 4-4 at home to date.
Broncos to Watch
Liz Harden, junior outside hitter: Harden leads the Broncos in scoring at 302.5 points on 277 kills (2.66 kps), hits .214 percent and has 42 blocks on the year. Harden passed teammate Elizabeth Griffin earlier this season on the all-time career points top-10 list and currently has 792.5 to rank sixth at Boise State. She hit a career-high .818 percent (18-0-22) at Weber State on Sept. 13, which ranks fourth all-time at Boise State. In addition, Harden recorded a career-high 27 kills at Eastern Washington on Aug. 31, which is tied for second most kills all-time in a five set match (since rally scoring); career-high seven block assists versus Seattle on Oct. 4.
Fiona Jones, junior outside hitter: Jones is the top scorer returning from 2010 when she recorded 331 points, third overall on team. Jones suffered a season ending injury at UNLV on Oct. 13. At the time of her injury she ranked second on the team with 220.5 points while hitting .156 percent with 194 kills, eight aces, six solo blocks and 25 block assists.
Elizabeth Griffin, senior outside hitter: Griffin entered her senior campaign ranked 10th for career points with 529. She now ranks seventh overall after adding 231 points this year for a total of 760. Griffin is second in points this season with 212 kills (.135) and 38 block assists.
Brittany Reardon, redshirt-freshman middle blocker: Reardon is ranked 25th nationally (as of 11/7/11) and leads the Mountain West for hitting percentage at .370. She has made an impact for the Broncos as a redshirt freshman ranking sixth in points with 214 on 168 kills, eight aces, six solo blocks and team second-best 64 block assists. Reardon hit a career-high .846 (11-0-13) against Texas Southern on Sept. 16, ranking second all-time for match hitting percentage. Hit .615 (9-1-13) at Air Force on Oct. 8.
Breann Nesselhuf, senior setter: Nesselhuf is the only returning all-conference player for Boise State, one of three honored by the WAC last year. The senior setter entered the year ranked sixth in career assists with 2,275, she has since moved to fifth with a team-high 750 this season for a career total of 3,025. The Swink, Colo., native is only the fifth Bronco all-time to surpass 3,000 career assists and the only the second to do it in three years. Nesselhuf recorded Boise State's first triple-double since 2006 and only the second since the inception of rally scoring in 2001 when she had 10 kills, 24 assists and career-high 19 digs at UNLV (10/13/11). The senior had a career-high 16 kills and 17 points against Wyoming (10/22/11). She is the only Bronco this year to be named to two all-tournament teams.
Amanda Remy, senior libero: Remy leads the Broncos defensive efforts with a team-high 432 digs. She recently moved into the top 10 all-time for career digs and is currently ranked sixth with 1,210.
The Man in Charge
Shawn Garus, Head Coach: Garus is in his third season in charge of the Broncos where he has gone 44-47 overall, including a 15-13 mark in 2011. After a 8-22 mark during his first season, Garus guided his team to an outstanding turnaround in 2010 with a 21-12 record. The 21 victories last year was the most for Boise State since 1990 when the team went 23-12. To date, Shawn's career record is 159-167 (.488) in his 11th season.
Last Week for the Broncos
Boise State opened a four-match homestand with victories over Utah Valley (3-1) and Air Force (3-0). Tuesday, Nov.1, the Broncos dropped the opening set to UVU then responded with three straight wins for the match victory. They extended their set win streak to six-straight with a sweep of Air Force as Boise State also extended its home match win streak to three heading into this week's home and regular season finale.
Darlene Nwagbuo led the Broncos with 30.5 points last week on 25 kills and 11 block assists while hitting an impressive 60 percent. She was followed by Liz Harden with 29 points on 27 kills and four block assists, while Brittany Reardon added 26.5 points on 20 kills, two aces and nine block assists. The team hit a combined 32 percent (112-31-253) on the week.
Scouting Match #29 Versus San Diego State
The Match/Series: San Diego State brings a 15-8 overall and 8-4 mark into the weekend, the Aztecs are tied with TCU for second place. They have never lost to the Broncos in two previous encounters including a straight set (25-15, 25-12, 25-23) win in San Diego on Oct. 15.
The Aztecs Recently: Last week the Aztecs swept a pair of home matches 3-1 over New Mexico and 3-0 over TCU. The week before they lost 3-0 at Colorado State and 3-2 at Wyoming. Andrea Hannasch leads SDSU with 332.5 points on 256 kills (.311), 20 aces, 13 solo blocks and 87 block assists. Raegan Shelton follows with 274.5 points on 241 kills (.251), 17 aces, one solo block and 31 block assists.
Looking at San Diego State: The Aztecs are charter members of the Mountain West and were picked to place third out of eight teams by the leagues coaches. SDSU returns six starters and 10 letterwinners from last season's 16-16 season when they went 8-8 in conference play to finish sixth. San Diego State is in its third season under coach Deitre Collins-Parker who is 40-39 at the school and 202-230 in 14 plus years as a head coach.
Last Time: The Aztecs defeated the Broncos in straight sets (25-15, 25-12, 25-23) on Oct. 15 in San Diego. Breann Nesselhuf and Darlene Nwagbuo led the Broncos with 8.5 points apiece. Nesselhuf had six kills, one ace and three block assists, while Nwagbuo added seven kills and three block assists. SDSU was led by Andrea Hannasch with 14.5 points on 13 kills (.765), one solo block and one block assists followed by Kyley Sexton with 11.5 points on eight kills, two aces and three block assists. The Aztecs out hit the Broncos 33.3 percent to 14.9 percent.
Scouting Match #30 Versus UNLV
The Match/Series: Saturday's match with UNLV will be the regular season finale for both schools and Boise State's "Senior Night." The Rebels bring a 11-15 record and 3-9 league mark into the weekend which begins on Thursday for UNLV at Air Force. Boise State holds a 3-2 advantage in the series including a five-set win over UNLV in Las Vegas on Oct. 13.
The Rebels Recently: UNLV has lost four-straight entering the week with road losses at Wyoming (3-1) and at Colorado State (3-0), along with home defeats last weekend to TCU (3-0) and New Mexico (3-1). Madeline Westman leads the Rebels with 312 points on 230 kills (.291), 18 aces, 20 solo blocks and 88 block assists. Mackenzie Moea'i follows with 286 points on 261 kills, one ace, eight solo blocks and 32 block assists.
Looking at UNLV: UNLV is one of the original eight charter members of the Mountain West where it was picked seventh in this year's coaches poll. The Rebels return four starters and six letterwinners from last season's 10-20 campaign when they finished tied for seventh at 5-11 in league. UNLV is in its first season under the direction of head coach Cindy Fredrick who is 11-15 at the school.
Last Time: The Last time these two met it went down to the wire with Boise State taking it 3-2 (25-18, 19-25, 33-31, 20-25, 15-9). Leah Stevens led the way for Boise State with 16 points on 13 kills (.391), one solo block and four block assists. Darlene Nwagbuo added 14.5 points on 12 kills (.219) and five block assists. Madeline Westman led UNLV with 19 points on 16 kills (.394), one ace and four block assists. Candice Thomas was second with 18.5 points on 13 kills (.333), three solo blocks and five block assists.
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