Humbled Hammel back in her element, dominating on the volleyball court

Posted: September 3, 2014 in General
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Redshirt sophomore Bree Hammel (9) leads UNLV in points after the Rebels' first weekend of action.

Redshirt sophomore Bree Hammel (9) leads UNLV in points after the Rebels’ first weekend of action, last week in the UNLV Invitational. PHOTO: W.G. Ranirez

By W.G. Ramirez

D69836_35Bree Hammel was a star volleyball player at Bonanza High School.

In fact, she was so good she earned co-MVP honors in the Southwest division, was named an MVP for the Sunset Region, was recognized for her efforts with all-conference honors and was largely considered one of the valley’s top players.

But when the three-time all-conference, scholar-athlete arrived at UNLV, she forgot to check her ego at the door and was in store for a rude awakening.

The 5-foot-11 outside hitter-turned-middle hitter admits she was humbled going from the big girl on campus to the new kid on the block, but is thankful for what she’s learned the past two years – a redshirt season in 2012 and a redshirt-freshman campaign that saw her play in a total of 31 sets.

“I definitely needed to grow, and I’m happy (coach) redshirted me,” said Hammel, last weekend after the Rebels’ win over UC Riverside during the UNLV Invitational. “I came into college kind of cocky at first. I didn’t think that I needed to put effort into this. It finally clicked that I needed to put my work ethic into this.”


UNLV’s Bree Hammel (9) and Alexis Patterson sky for a block against Cal Riverside’s Fabiana Rosas during Saturday’s UNLV Invitational. PHOTO: W.G. Ramirez

Just watching her, you’d never know she needed time to adjust to the next level, as her mere presence ignited the Rebels every time she stepped on the court. Whether she skied at the net for a kill, teamed with Alexis Patterson at the net for a block or showed off her vertical during one of her powerful jump serves. Fact it, her teammates noticeably respond to the electricity she generates on the floor.

“I said to her ‘what happened to that girl I recruited; I loved that girl and I haven’t seen her for a year and a half now,'” UNLV coach Cindy Fredrick said. “And all of a sudden, that’s when she just kind of decided ‘alright, I’m gonna get that girl back.'”

It was Fredrick’s decision to redshirt Hammel two years ago, and it was Hammel’s eventual decision to make an attitude change that both are hoping will benefit the Rebels by the time the Mountain West Conference schedule comes around.

The move from outside hitter to the middle has been a huge adjustment, but Hammel said she likes the action and appreciates the game much more, given how much activity she’s involved in during each set.

“I still have a lot of learning to do, but I think it’s cool that I get to shift from different positions,” she said. “I think the biggest part of me is just being aware on the court, having a volleyball IQ. In high school I just wanted to hit, I just wanted to hit harder and harder.

“I come here and it’s not about hitting harder, it’s like using your roll shots, using your tips, strategizing against the other team. I think coming in as a freshman I didn’t have that and I think that’s why I got redshirted. It made me a better player overall. This year I think it’s showing.”

After the Rebels’ first five matches, Hammel ranks second on the team with 51 kills and first with 29 blocks. She leads the team with 72.5 points overall.


UNLV’s Bree Hammel (9) blocks Cal Riverside’s Ashley Cox last week in the UNLV Invitational. PHOTO: W.G. Ramirez

“She’s got a great personality, she’s fun, she’s upbeat, she loves to compete and I think that’s what draws everyone to her,” Fredrick said. “I think that’s what’s fun to play with, is kids that are so excited about what they do and how they play. I’m so proud of her and what she’s accomplished right now and how she’s transformed herself. Her first two years she had a few things on her plate that weren’t quite in the right direction, and all of a sudden she’s turned everything around. She’s gotten herself in such good physical condition, she has a whole new focus.

“As coaches that’s what you want to see happen to young people. So it’s really exciting for us to see that with Bree. We always knew she was a tremendous athlete, but she wasn’t using that and now she is, and it’s really fun to see.”

REBELS IN ACTION – Hammel and the Rebels return to action this weekend in South Orange, N.J., for the Seton Hall Invitational, and will play two more out of town tournaments – in Seattle and Conway, Ark. – before returning to host Southern Utah and Fresno State, on Sept. 23 and 25, respectively.

  1. Lisa Ferrell says:

    Go Bree. I am so proud of you. You have always been an AllStar Athlete in my eyes. Great to have you back in action!

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