Lobo Volleyball Home Opener - Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic
10:30 a.m. - Idaho State vs. Georgia Tech - Live Stats
1:00 p.m. - Lobos vs. UC Riverside - Live Stats | WATCH LIVE
5:00 p.m. - Georgia Tech vs. UC Riverside - Live Stats
7:30 p.m. - Lobos vs. Idaho State - Live Stats
ALBQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico volleyball team hosts UC Riverside for its home opener at 1:00 pm. MT on Friday as part of the Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic. Georgia Tech and Idaho State are also making the trip to Albuquerque for the tournament, which features four matches on Friday and two on Saturday.
The Lobos are coming off a 2-1 opening weekend at the University of Arkansas Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. New Mexico started 2013 with a 3-0 win over UMKC before dropping a 2-3 decision to the Razorbacks. The Lobos closed the weekend with a sweep over Northwestern State.
Junior Chantale Riddle and senior Miquella Lovato were named to the 2013 University of Arkansas All-Tournament Team. Riddle, a right-side hitter, had 40 kills (3.64/set), three ace serves, 19 digs and 11 total blocks and tallied 49.0 points over 11 sets played. Libero Lovato notched 54 digs over the three matches -- more than any other player at the tournament. She added a Lobo-best four ace serves and 12 assists.
Nelson says UNM gained a lot from last weekend's tournament and are ready for this weekend's home opener.
"It should be a really good weekend for us," Nelson said of the Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic. "We're excited to be playing at home and we're hoping to get a big crowd out.
"We're going to continue to push our offense faster and faster. That was one of the things that was really fun about watching our women play last weekend was how fast they were playing. There were times it got chaotic for them, but they're learning to manage it. It's fun to see them be so athletic and go fast like that."
Historically, the Lobos do well in their very first home match of the season. Since 1980, the Lobos have a 26-8 record in home-opening matches. Since current head coach Jeff Nelson took over, the Lobos are 6-0 in home openers. The last time the Lobos dropped a home opening match was in 2006 against Utah State, 1-3 (16-30, 26-30, 30-28, 27-30).
The Highlanders of UC Riverside are still looking for their first victory as they went 0-3 last weekend at Weber State's Wildcat Invitational. UC Riverside was swept by Texas Tech and Seattle and dropped a five-set match to Weber State. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Cox was named to the All-Tournament team as she hit .216 on the weekend and averaged 3.82 kills per set.
"We don't know a lot about them because they have a new coach and had some turnover with players, but they're from a strong volleyball conference," Nelson said of UC Riverside.
The Bengals opened at the University of Missouri Tournament last weekend and went 2-2, dropping matches to South Dakota and Missouri while picking up wins over Arkansas State and Pittsburgh. Tressa Lyman leads Idaho State on offense with a 4.46 kills/set average and .237 hitting accuracy.
"Idaho State returns five starters and is picked to win its conference," Nelson said. "They won 25 games last year and I think they'll be a really good Friday night home match for us."
Georgia Tech opened the 2013 season at home last weekend with a 2-1 record at the Georgia Tech Invitational. The Jackets swept Florida A&M and Chattanooga, before being swept by the College of of Charleston. Seniors Kaleigh Colson and Ivona Kolak lead Georgia Tech. Colson averages 9.33 assists and 1.56 kills-per set while Kolak is averaging 2.44 kills and 2.67 digs-per-set.
"They're a strong team," Nelson said of the Jackets. "They had two All-Americans last year and will be a really good weekend for us."