Nov. 23, 2004
The 2004 New Mexico volleyball team began UNM's rise in the Mountain West Conference and built a strong foundation for the program's continuing success in the future. The Lobos improved on last season's win total by five matches, upping their total to nine victories, including three in MWC action. The team finished the season with a 9-17 record and was seventh in the competitive Mountain West standings with a 3-11 mark.
New Mexico was once again thin on experience with only two seniors on the roster. The rest of the team, which featured three juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen, stayed competitive throughout the entire season in building a solid core for 2005.
At the helm of the Lobos is third-year head coach Kelley McKee, who along with third-year assistant Brent Aldridge and second-year assistant Chelsea Robb have instilled positive energy into this storied program that has seen seven NCAA Tournament appearances and two conference championships. McKee has a 166-167 career record in 12 years of coaching, but the encouraging fact is her impressive 143-104 (.579) record during her tenure at Northern Arizona prior to arriving at UNM. After getting settled at NAU, she led her teams to five straight winning seasons before her departure, going 90-45 with an NCAA Tournament appearance and two conference championships during that span.
UNM made a statement at the season-opening Comcast Lobo Invitational, defeating Northern Colorado - the 2003 NCAA Division I Provisional Champion - in five games, snapping the Bears' school-record 26-match winning streak. UNM, who also beat Montana in the tournament, took second at the invitational. Kelly Therkelsen and Samie Weber garnered all-tournament team honors for New Mexico.
The young Lobos showed their promise after claiming the Albuquerque Marriott Lobo Volleyball Classic Sept. 17-18 with victories over Hartford, UTEP and Weber State. UNM placed four players on the all-tournament team, including Nicole Ryan, who was named the Most Valuable Player after averaging 4.00 kills per game and hitting at a .339 clip. Adah Burke, Chelsea Sondrup and Weber were also named to the all-tournament team.
New Mexico began the grueling Mountain West Conference slate with a 6-4 record. The Lobos fell in their first four conference matches before sweeping Air Force Oct. 8 in Colorado Springs. Several of the losses were close, however, including a near-upset of then-No. 22 Utah at the Johnson Center Oct. 2. The Lobos lead the co-conference champs 2 games to 1 and were ahead by five points midway through the fourth game before the Utes rallied back for the win. For the season, the Lobos lost three games in which they were leading 2 games to 1 (at Wyoming, Utah, UNLV).
UNM gained some momentum late in the year on its last road trip of the season, taking games from both Utah and BYU in hostile environments. It marked the first time UNM had taken a game from the Cougars since 1995.
The Lobos kept up the pace after the trip, winning two of their last three matches of the regular season. UNM dominated Air Force for the second time of the season on Nov. 5, grounding the Falcons in a sweep. Chelsea Sondrup collected her 300th career block in the match, becoming only the fourth Lobo in history to reach the 300-block plateau.
After a heartbreaking five-game loss to UNLV Nov. 11, the Lobos bounced back with a resounding three-game sweep over San Diego State Nov. 14, marking the first time in school history UNM has ever swept the Aztecs. UNM hit .478 (52K-9E-90TA) in the match, which is the third-highest attack percentage in school history and best for any team in a league match in 2004.
New Mexico, seeded seventh, closed the season with a three-game loss at second-seeded and eighth-ranked Colorado State in the first round of the Mountain West Championship Nov. 18 in Fort Collins.
With a solid group of returning players intact for 2005 - including a stellar recruiting class that features one of the top setters in the nation (Sarah Kwasigroch - Palos Park, Ill.) - look for the Lobos to continue their ascension in the victory column and the Mountain West standings.
LOBO SEASON IN REVIEW QUICK HITS
While the team got better on the court all season long, several Lobos captured impressive individual accomplishments. Here's a look at the top performances of the season:
-- Junior Chelsea Sondrup is now tied for third in New Mexico history with 313 career blocks. She became just the fourth player in New Mexico history to reach the 300-block plateau after recording six against Air Force Nov. 5. Sondrup is just 13 blocks behind Linda Archuleta's school record 326. She is already the school-record holder in block assists with 294 and will add to her record every match as a senior.
-- Junior Nicole Ryan led the team with 3.31 kills per game. She was even better in conference play, ranking fifth with 3.46 kpg. She put down a season-high 24 kills Nov. 11 against UNLV and was named the MVP of the Albuquerque Marriott Lobo Volleyball Classic after leading the Lobos to three straight wins.
-- Senior Adah Burke lived up to her billing as the top libero in the Mountain West Conference. The preseason All-MWC selection led the team with 4.09 digs per game and was second in conference matches with 4.10 dpg. She dug a career-high 32 in the Wyoming match Sept. 24, which is third most in a match in school history. She racked up 335 digs for the year, which is 11th best in a UNM season. Adah shined off the court as well, earning first-team Academic All-District VI honors for her 4.02 GPA in Applied Mathematics.
-- Freshman Samie Weber led the team with 110 blocks (1.22 per game), which ranks 11th best in a Lobo season. Her 105 blocks assists are also good for fourth best in a UNM season. She put down 11 blocks against Utah Oct. 2, which tied for third best in a UNM match.
-- Senior Monica Meihack finished her career sixth all-time in the UNM record books with 2,840 career assists. She dished out 988 as a senior, good for ninth best in a UNM season. Her 1,249 assists in 2002 are second best in a Lobo season.
-- Sophomore Jennifer Heasty recorded a career-high 11 blocks against Utah Oct. 2, tying the third-highest amount in a UNM match. She also put down a career-high 20 kills vs. UNLV Nov. 11.
-- Sophomore Kelly Therkelsen garnered third-team Academic All-District honors for her 4.22 GPA in Political Science. Therkelsen, who had a career-high 25 kills against George Washington Sept. 25, was second on the team with 2.81 kills per game.
LOBO NEWS & NOTES
-- The Lobos averaged 490 fans per match this season, ranking fifth in the Mountain West. Overall, 6,853 fans arrived for 14 home matches.
-- The Lobos were third in the MWC with 3.00 blocks per game in conference matches. They set a school record with 43 block assists in the Utah match Oct. 2. The Lobos' 22.5 team blocks vs. the Utes are the second most in any Mountain West match this season. Three players recorded at least 10 blocks in the match (Samie Weber and Jennifer Heasty - 11; Chelsea Sondrup - 10).
-- New Mexico recorded 462 block assists as a team this season, which is second best for a Lobo team in school history. The 2002 team, also coached by Kelley McKee, had 480 block assists.
-- The Lobos swept San Diego State for the first time in school history in the last regular season match Nov. 14. UNM hit .478 (52K-9E-90TA) in the match, which is the third-highest attack percentage in school history and highest for any team in a league match this season.
LOBOS FALL TO No. 8 COLORADO STATE IN FIRST ROUND OF MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP: Eighth-ranked and second-seeded Colorado State defeated the seventh-seeded New Mexico volleyball team in three games, 21-30, 16-30, 20-30, before 1,350 in the first round of the Mountain West Volleyball Championship Thursday, Nov. 18 at Moby Arena. The Lobos finish the 2004 campaign with a 9-17 record.
CSU, the host team in the tournament, hit an impressive .351 in the match while limiting the Lobos to a .093 attack percentage. Kelly Therkelsen hit a team-best .429 with eight kills to go along with five digs and three blocks. Nicole Ryan put down seven kills and three blocks.
Chelsea Sondrup recorded three blocks in the match, giving her 313 for her career, which ties Robyn Wentworth for third best on the all-time charts at UNM.
Monica Meihack, playing in her last match in the Cherry & Silver, dished out 24 assists. She closes out her career sixth all-time in the school record books with 2,840 assists.
The Lobos started strong against the Rams in game one, taking the first four points of the game. The Rams came back to tie it at 9, but a Therkelsen kill gave the Lobos the lead once again at 10-9. During the middle portion of the game, the Rams held a slim 1-2 point edge, and the Lobos only trailed by one at the 18-17 mark. But the Rams then rattled off 12 of the next 16 points to take the game going away, 30-21. Therkelsen led the Lobos with three kills in the game.
Unlike the first game where the Lobos quickly grabbed the lead, CSU led the entire second game. The Lobos trailed by five points at 10-5, but the Rams went up by 10 at 17-7. UNM cut it to seven at 18-11, but the Ram offense put the game out of reach with a 7-1 run that made it 25-12. CSU, who hit .500 in the game with 15 kills and only three errors, went on to win the game, 30-16, and took a 2-0 games lead into intermission. Ryan had three kills and no errors with two blocks in the second game to lead the Lobos.
New Mexico hung tight in the third game, and after trailing by 2-3 points for the first half of the game, tied the match at 14 on a Therkelsen kill. That's as close as the Lobos would get, however, as the Rams closed the game on a 16-6 run in claiming the game and the match, 30-20.
CAUTION - DIGGING AHEAD: Senior Adah Burke proved why she was named the top libero in the Mountain West Conference in the preseason. Burke led the team with 4.09 digs per game and was second in conference matches with 4.10 digs per game. She was named the top libero at the Albquerque Marriott Lobo Volleyball Classic (Sept. 17-18) and recorded a career-high 32 digs at Wyoming Sept. 24, which is third most all-time in a UNM match.
Burke has shined off the court as well. In early November, she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VI first-team for her 4.02 GPA in Applied Mathematics. Last year, she earned second-team honors.
BLOCK YOU VERY MUCH: Junior Chelsea Sondrup is one of only four Lobos in school history to record at least 300 blocks. After three seasons, she is tied for third in the school record books with 313 blocks, and will likely become the all-time leader her senior season. She is only 13 blocks behind Linda Archuleta's school record 326.
Sondrup became the all-time UNM leader in block assists when she recorded 10 vs. Utah Oct. 2; she currently has 294 career block assists.
This season, she was second on the team with 103 blocks (1.16 per game). Her 63 blocks (1.26 pg) in conference action tied for sixth best in the conference. She earned Albuquerque Marriott Lobo Volleyball Classic all-tournament team honors after putting down 12 block assists vs. Weber State, which is the second most in a UNM match.
Sondrup also holds the single-season UNM mark for block assists, as she tallied 131 her freshman year. She also established UNM single-match block (14) and block assists (13) records with her performance against SMU on Sept. 20, 2002.
BLOCK YOU VERY MUCH, Pt. 2: Following in Sondrup's footsteps, freshman Samie Weber put on an impressive display of blocking in her rookie season. Weber led the team with 110 blocks (1.22 per game). In conference matches, Weber was third in the MWC with 1.38 blocks per game. Her 105 block assists rank fourth best in a UNM season, and her 110 blocks rank 11th.
Weber collected 11 blocks (one solo, 10 assists) against Utah Oct. 2, tying for the third- most ever in UNM match. The Fort Lupton, Colo., product earned all-tournament honors in both the Comcast Lobo Invitational and the Albuquerque Marriott Lobo Volleyball Classic. She became the fifth player in school history to record 100 block assists in one season after putting down seven in the Air Force match Nov. 5.
SET ME UP: Senior setter Monica Meihack was the starting setter for the third straight year this past season. She finished her career sixth all-time in Lobo volleyball history with 2,840 career assists.
Meihack collected a double-double in the first match of the year against Northern Colorado, tallying 50 assists and 10 digs. She led the team with four double-doubles this season.
Meihack dished out a season-high 64 assists vs. UNLV Nov. 11, one shy of her career best. For the season, she recorded at least 50 assists on six occasions. Meihack, a Fallon, Nev., native, was sixth in the MWC with 10.40 assists per game. Her 988 assists in 2004 are good for ninth best in a UNM season.
FROM THE BEACH TO THE DESERT: Junior outside hitter Nicole Ryan transferred to UNM this season after playing for Golden West Community College in California last year. She led the Rustlers to a perfect 22-0 season in 2003 and brought some of that magic to the Lobos in 2004. Ryan displayed her winning mentality in the Albuquerque Marriott Lobo Volleyball Classic, leading the Lobos to a perfect 3-0 record. She was named the MVP of the tournament after averaging 4.00 kills per game and 1.42 blocks per game, all while hitting at a .339 clip.
Ryan led the team with 3.31 kills per game. She was even better in conference matches, putting down 3.46 kpg, good for fifth in the league. She put down a season-high 24 kills vs. UNLV Nov. 11.
THERKELSEN SHOWING IMPROVEMENT: Sophomore Kelly Therkelsen showed dramatic improvement in her second season as a Lobo. She was second on the team with 2.81 kills per game, which is an improvement over last year's 1.72 kpg. Therkelsen earned Comcast Lobo Invitational all-tournament team honors the first weekend of the season, and the following week she earned all-tournament accolades at the Delaware Invitational after recording a career-high 25 kills against George Washington. In the Oct. 8 win over Air Force, Therkelsen hit for a career-high .524 (13K-2E-21TA) with a team-high 13 kills. Therkelsen put down a career-high 10 blocks in the UNLV match Nov. 11.
HEASTY BRINGS EXPERIENCE TO THE FRONT LINE: Sophomore outside/middle Jennifer Heasty was one of five starters returing to the lineup this season for UNM. Heasty led the Lobos in 2003 in hitting percentage and is very versatile around the net. In the conference season, she displayed her blocking ability, racking up 58 in 14 matches (1.16 pg) to rank 11th best in the MWC. Heasty put down a career-high 11 blocks against Utah Oct. 2 and recorded a career-high 20 kills vs. UNLV Nov. 11. She also finished in the top 10 of the MWC with 0.29 aces per game.
LIVE FROM BUDAPEST: Junior transfer Gabriella Veres, a native of Budapest, Hungary, made her Divison I debut against Creighton Sept. 4. She also saw action at Air Force Oct. 8. Veres played on the Hungarian Junior National Team and was a member of the PRSC Division II junior championship team in 2003 (21-under) and the PRSC Division II championship team in 2004 (all ages).
BRINGING A LOCAL FLAVOR TO THE LOBOS: Two freshmen on the team this season, Laura Conklin and Jessica Hezekiah, hail from Albuquerque. Conklin is a defensive specialist who saw action in 73 games this season and averaged 0.99 digs per game. Hezekiah played in 14 games and recorded seven kills and nine blocks.
Freshman defensive specialist Kim Cox, a native of Flagstaff, Ariz., was also a fixture in the back row for the Lobos, playing in 83 games while tallying 1.73 digs per game.
TWO LOBOS NAMED TO CoSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT TEAM: Senior volleyball player Adah Burke (Las Cruces, N.M.) was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VI first team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Burke earned second-team honors in 2003.
Burke, one of the top liberos in the Mountain West Conference, boasts a 4.02 GPA in Applied Mathematics. She was named the preseason libero of the year in the Mountain West, and has lived up to the billing in her last season.
Burke led the team with 4.09 digs per game and ranked second in MWC league matches with 4.10 dpg. Named the top libero at the Albuquerque Marriott Lobo Volleyball Classic in September, she had several other impressive performances, including a career-high 32 digs against Wyoming Sept. 25, which is third most all-time in a UNM match. Against nationally-ranked Utah, she collected 15 digs in Albuquerque and a match-high 21 digs in Salt Lake City.
In additon to Burke, sophomore Kelly Therkelsen (Eagan, Minn.) garnered third-team accolades. Therkelsen, who had the highest GPA in the district with a 4.22 GPA in Political Science, dramatically improved in her second season as a Lobo. She was second on the team with 2.81 kills per game, which is an improvement over last year's 1.72 kpg.
In order to be nominated for the CoSIDA All-Academic team, a student-athlete must be a sophomore in athletic and academic standing, have at least a 3.20 GPA and be a starter or important reserve on the team. Once nominated, a vote is taken by members of CoSIDA to determine who is named to the team.
Adah Burke NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST TEAM - Senior Adah Burke was named to the preseason All-Mountain West volleyball team and the Lobos were picked to finish seventh in the conference. Burke was tabbed as the top libero in the MWC and was one of seven players to earn preseason All-MWC accolades.
Burke was third in league matches last season with 3.23 digs per game. She led the Lobos in overall games with 2.88 digs per game and earned Academic All-District VI honors.
Colorado State's senior setter Melissa Courtney was selected as the preseason player of the year. Other members of the preseason All-MWC team include: Katie Jo Shirley (Sr., Colorado State); Shelly Sommerfeldt (Jr. Utah); Lindsy Hartsock (So., BYU); Sara Maytorena (Sr., Wyoming) and Tess Rogers (Jr., Colorado State).
In the preseason coaches poll, Colorado State earned 14-of-15 possible first-place votes and tallied 118 points to top the poll. The Rams finished 2003 with a 30-5 record and an undefeated league mark of 14-0. CSU is ranked 11th in the USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll.
BYU edged Utah for second place as the Cougars collected 100 points, while the Utes had 97. San Diego State was picked fourth, followed by Wyoming, UNLV, New Mexico and Air Force.
LOBO VOLLEYBALL EARNS AVCA ACADEMIC AWARD - The New Mexico volleyball program was one of 46 schools in the country to be awarded the prestigious American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the 2003-04 academic year. The award, initiated in 1992-93, honors collegiate volleyball programs that displayed excellence in the classroom by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
Seven Lobos (Adah Burke, Jennifer Heasty, Anna Reines, Lindsay Smith, Chelsea Sondrup, Kelly Therkelsen and Georgia Whitson) were named 2003 Mountain West Scholar-Athletes, in which a student-athlete must have completed at least one academic term at the member institution, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, and be a starter or significant contributer to the team. Burke garnered second-team Academic All-District VI honors for having a 4.04 GPA in Mathematics. In Kelley McKee's 11 years as a head coach, athletes have earned academic all-conference honors 42 times, including 11 in her two years at the University of New Mexico.
HOME TOURAMENT RECAPS:
COMCAST LOBO INVITATIONAL SUMMARY (Sept. 3-4) - Three teams, including New Mexico, finished the Comcast Lobo Invitational with 2-1 records, but Creighton walked away with the title due to the tiebreaker which is the ratio of points for/against vs. all opponents. Northern Colorado also went 2-1 while Montana went 0-3.
The Lobos started the tournament by snapping Northern Colorado's 26-match winning streak with a 3-2 victory over the Bears. UNC, which claimed the 2003 Division I Independent Championship, took the first game from the Lobos, 30-25, but UNM stormed back to win game two, 30-19. The two teams traded games again with UNC winning game three and UNM winning game four. In the fifth and decisive game, the Lobos racked up eight kills and hit .438 in toppling the Bears, 15-1