Tara Park /Nevada Sagebrush Nevada head coach Ruth Lawanson (right) hugs senior Tessa Lea’ea (left) before facing San Jose State on Nov. 25 at Virginia Street Gym. It was the last game at Nevada for both.

By Tara Park

An era in the Wolf Pack’s volleyball program came to a close last Tuesday, Nov. 25 as the team sent off three seniors and head coach Ruth Lawanson with a 3-0 win against San Jose State.

The day after the victory, Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth announced Lawanson will not return as the program’s head coach, but will remain with the department in an administrative role.

Lawanson helped guide Nevada to a 8-20 (5-13 Mountain West) record this season — the best mark in her four years at the helm of a team. The Wolf Pack failed to qualify for the Mountain West Tournament and finished ninth in the conference. Lawanson career record finished at 21-94.

The firing was the first of Knuth’s during his tenure at Nevada. Knuth announced a national search would begin immediately to find Lawanson’s replacement.

“Ruth’s credentials from her playing career are impeccable and she is a genuine and good person,” Knuth said in a press release. “Unfortunately this did not translate to the level of performance we want for our volleyball program. We thank her for the unwavering commitment to our student-athletes.

“We have dedicated, hard-working and talented young women in the program. A new direction will provide them an opportunity to achieve academically, athletically and socially.”

The game was also the last for Wolf Pack seniors Tessa Lea’ea, Donna Greeley and Kinsey Minter.

Fifth-year middle blocker Lea’ea will leave, but not without putting a dent in Nevada’s record books. Lea’ea is one of 11 players in program history to record over 1,000 career kills and finishes in the top-five all-time in career blocks (452) and points (1412.5).

“Every single person on the team right now, they all bring something to the table,” Lea’ea said. “I have an individual relationship with all of them. Not everyone can say that about their teams.”

Lea’ea is pursuing a pro career and will find out Thursday if she made a team in Montenegro.

Also saying goodbye to the program is right side hitter Greenly, who notched the deciding point against the Spartans with a kill to give the Wolf Pack a 25-15 win in the first set.

Greeley’s Nevada volleyball career began on the university’s club team. She was given the opportunity to walk onto the collegiate team last year and has now played for two seasons.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted, it’s really rewarding,” Greeley said. “To not only walk onto the team but actually play was incredible.”

Outside hitter Minter boded farewell to the team as well. Minter transferred to the school from Glendale Community College in the spring of 2013. However, Minter is also a high jumper for Nevada track and field team, leaving a chapter in her Wolf Pack career.

“It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m not going to get the [volleyball] team text messages,” Minter said. “I’m going to miss the closeness off the court, but I plan on bringing some of the values from the volleyball team to track and hopefully establish some good things.”

Lawanson announced to the team she would not be returning next season following the win and was unavailable for comment.

“We could always wish for the season to be better, there’s always room to grow,” Minter said. “But I’m proud of where we came from and the hard work that went into this season.”

Tara Park can be reached at euribe@nevadasagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.