UNLV 3, VALPARAISO 0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-18)
VALPARAISO, IN — In becoming the first mid-major program to win the revamped NIVC, UNLV played five matches on the road and won every one, the last in a resounding victory over Valparaiso as Mariena Hayden paced the effort with 12 kills and nine digs.
The Rebels (28-9), out of the Mountain West Conference, won the most matches in program history this season and played on the road in all their NIVC matches in 2021. The Beacons (26-10) won four matches to reach the NIVC final, all in 3-0 sweeps and all on their home court.
UNLV had an 18-9 lead in kills while taking the first set, closing it out on an ace from Lauryn Burt and a kill from Hayden. In Set 2, the score was tied at 17-all before the Rebels pulled away, getting the final two points on blocks. In the closing set, UNLV took an early lead and made it stand up, closing the deal with kills from Hayden (reigning Mountain West player of the year) and Kate Brennan.
Gabrielle Arretche-Ramos had 10 kills for UNLV; Brennan had eight kills, Arien Fafard dishes out 22 assists, and Shelby Capllonch added 15 digs. Jordyn Freeman led the way in blocks with nine.
For Valpo, Peyton McCarthy had nine kills and Brittany Anderson had 13 assists. Rylee Cookerly had 10 digs, leaving her just one short of the NCAA D-I record of 3,176.
This marked the fourth edition of the rebooted NIVC, which originally ran from 1989-95. Previous winners of the updated NIVC (powered by Triple Crown Sports) were Georgia Tech (2019), Iowa State (2018) and Ole Miss (2017).
Tournament officials also announced the 2021 NIVC all-tournament team:
Mariena Hayden (MVP) - UNLV
Shelby Capllonch - UNLV
Jordyn Freeman - UNLV
Brittany Anderson - Valparaiso
Peyton McCarthy - Valparaiso
Serena Patterson - UTEP
McKayla Wuensch - UConn