ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 19 Colorado State on Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 1,623 in the Johnson Center.
New Mexico drops to 11-2 over all and 2-1 in Mountain West play while nationally-ranked Colorado State remains undefeated with a 12-0 mark overall and 3-0 record in league play.
It was the first time Colorado State had been taken to a fifth set this season. It was the third time this season and the second time this week the Lobos went to a fifth set.
The Lobos play a pair of Moutnain West matches on the road next week, starting at Utah State on Thursday, Oct. 3 before traveling to Boise State on Saturday, Oct. 5.
New Mexico went down 0-2 in the marathon match as the Rams took the first two sets, 27-25 and 25-18. UNM trailed by as many as five in the third set before charging back and taking the set, 27-25, and handling the Rams, 25-16, in the fourth.
New Mexico carried momentum into the deciding set and led 11-8, but the Rams charged back and took the set, 15-13, and match, 3-2.
It was the first time UNM dropped the opening set of a match this season.
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves by not winning that first set," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "Even though Colorado State is a great team, we beat ourselves today. We should have won game one, and then in game five, we led the whole way. It's really disappointing," Nelson said.
The Lobos came close to putting away the match by opening strong in the fifth set, but again a few untimely errors deflated the home team's momentum.
"I felt like we were in control up to 11-8 in the fifth set, but then we had two reception errors at key times and we started playing tight," Nelson said. "We had opportunities to take some big swings and instead, we swung safe."
The loss halts the Lobos' win streak at 10 and puts a mark on UNM's home record in 2013. It's also the first loss for New Mexico since a 2-3 decision at Arkansas on Aug. 30.
The Lobos led in nearly every statistical category finishing with a .236 (62k-24e-161ta) hitting percentage to .220 (68k-29e-177ta) by the Rams, recording 66 digs to 61 and 15.0 blocks to 11.0.
CSU, however, had six ace serves compared to four by New Mexico.
"We've got to be a little tougher. I realize we're young and we've got to mature and grow, but we need to be better and more consistent to win a match like this," Nelson said.
Three Lobos had three student-athletes record double-doubles: sophomore Hannah Johnson finished with a career-high 52 assists and 13 digs. redshirt junior Chantale Riddle tallied 18 kills and 11 digs and freshman Julia Warren recorded career-high 15 kills and 13 digs.
Senior middle blocker Lexi Ross had 10 kills, three digs and four blocks.
Senior libero Miquella Lovato finished with 21 digs.
"Miquella gives us a great match every time," Nelson said. "We talk about kids consistently playing at a high level and not riding the highs and lows and that's her. She's playing at a high level every match and every game for us. She kept us in some points with some crazy good digs."
While the Lobos almost took a win from a top-25 team, Nelson isn't satisfied with almost and expects his team to learn from the sting of this loss.
"There's no moral victory in this at all," Nelson said. "I think Colorado State is a great team. I think we're a great team. The things I've seen out of this Lobo team are exceptional. Thursday night's match is the best match this program has played in the seven years I've been here.
"I've got to figure out as a coach how to toughen these players up because I don't want to lose another one like that."