By THOMAS RANSON
LVN Sports Writer
RENO - Salaia Salave'a is probably one of the best volleyball players to grace the floors of the Virginia Street Gym.
"Certainly (she is) one of the most athletic players I've coached for sure," Nevada coach Devin Scruggs said.
The 6-foot outside hitter from Leone, American Samoa, will be playing in her last game(s), depending how Nevada fares in the Western Athletic Conference tournament which begins on Thanksgiving.
Nevada is entered in the tournament as the fourth seed and will face Idaho Thursday at 5 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center. The winner plays again on Friday at 6:30 p.m. with the championship game slated for Saturday at 5 p.m.
With all of her accomplishments during the four-year span with the Pack, Salave'a (pronounce d Saal-uh-VAY-uh) appears as a natural leader to her team.
"She's a phenomenal athlete. She plays with an incredible amount of emotion," Scruggs said. "She has the ability to lead this team to great lengths."
Outside hitter Carly Sorensen agrees.
"She's definitely a big part of our team," Sorensen, a 2003 Fallon grad, said of Salave'a. "She's the most emotional player on our team. When she's up, she seems to bring the team up."
"I'm pretty happy for what I've accomplished," said Salave'a, who only missed one match in her entire career. "I didn't know I was going to over-accomplish the kills."
Salave'a, who will earn her bachelor's degree in psychology in May 2006, possesses all-time records in four categories including points, block solos, block assists and total blocks.
After Nevada's loss at Utah State, Salave'a improved her career points to 2,051, block assists to 420 and total blocks to 529. Salave'a's solo blocks remained at 111, and her 1,628 kills is second all-time.
"That's good," Scruggs said of the accomplishments. "She's been playing a dominant force since she was a freshman."
In her time at Nevada, Salave'a expressed gratitude to the last friendships she has built with her teammates.
"They've been good," Salave'a said of her teammates. "It's what you get when you put a lot of friends together. It has taught me a lot of things about life."
Sorensen agreed with Salave'a about the importance of camaraderie.
"We have a good relationship on the court and off the court even,""Sorensen said.
After the WAC tournament and possibly the NCAA tournament, Salave'a will don a different Nevada uniform.
Salave'a earned a scholarship to play for Kim Gervasoni's women's basketball team.
"I just really want to make a difference there," said Salave'a, who worked on her basketball skills during the summer. "Good things come to patient people."
Scruggs wants the best for Salave'a during basketball season.
"I'm excited to see here play basketball," Scruggs said. "It will be a fun experience for her and I hope she does well."
In 2002, she was named to four all-tournament teams including second-team all-WAC and WAC Tournament Team. Salave'a started all 32 matches and picked up WAC Freshman of the Year.
Salave'a set single-season marks as a sophomore by recording 36 block solos and broke her own record of 140 total blocks. Salave'a's performance led to her placement on the WAC Tournament Team, All-WAC Preseason Team, and First-Team All-WAC.
In 2004, she was named again to the All-WAC Preseason Team, WAC Tournament Team, and First-Team All-WAC.
Salave'a picked up her first WAC Player of the Week award and was the MVP of the UC Davis Invitational.
The senior hitter earned her second WAC Player of the Week this season and was also named to the All-WAC Preseason Team.