Stevens: Nelson's Nice Girls Look For Road House Toughness
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/06/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 6, 2010

Lobo Volleyball
Lobos at TCU, 6 p.m.
GoLobos.com: Box score, recap

MWC This Week
CSU at Air Force, Wyoming at UNLV, BYU at SDSU, Utah at SDSU
Saturday: CSU at UNLV, Wyo at AFA, Utah at SDSU

"Be nice until it's time to not be nice." -- Patrick Swayze as Dalton in "Road House."

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Jeff Nelson's Lobos are competitive, motivated and -- nice. They are quick, hit the ball hard, technically sound and -- nice. They pass well, play unselfish volleyball, serve well and -- are nice.

"We have some really nice girls," Nelson said.

Of course, Nelson likes to have nice Lobos. He wants them to be nice to each other, nice before games, nice after games, nice on campus, nice to their mothers, and nice in the classroom.

On the floor, he wants them to be mean mother bears. He wants them to play with a dash of back-alley meanness. He wants some back-to-the-wall ferociousness, a shoot-first gunslinger mentality.

He doesn't always want nice. Isn't there an expression about how nice girls finish last?

"We are a good team. We are technically strong," he said. "But we don't always go out there looking to pound teams. We need to be a little tougher. Fight is a word we use a lot. They need to learn how to fight more."

The Lobos didn't fight so well at San Diego State and were thumped 3-0 by the Aztecs. The Lobos came back to Johnson Center last week and ripped Air Force and UNLV by 3-0 counts.

You could argue whether the Lobos were showing some nasty against Falcons and Rebels, or simply were playing technically strong team ball in the friendly confines of Johnson Center.

It's not such a difficult thing for the Lobos to win in Johnson Center. They sometimes can get away with "nice" on their home floor.

It won't be so easy in Fort Worth on the floor of the TCU Horned Frogs. At TCU, the Lobos probably need a nasty combination of back-alley meanness and back-to-the-wall ferociousness.

"TCU is always a hard one. They have probably the toughest home environment in the conference," said Nelson .


CSU --- 13-2 -- 3-0
Wyo ---- 16-2 -- 2-1
TCU -- 11-6 -- 2-1
UNM --- 10-6 -- 2-1
Utah --- 7-8 -- 2-1
SDS ---- 7-9 -- 2-2
UNLV --- 5-11 -- 1-2
AFA---- 3-13 -- 0-3
BYU --- 3-12 -- 0-3


The Frogs also have to be looking at UNM as a key win. No Mountain West team can afford to lose at home. The Frogs have to be eying the Lobos as one of the MWC teams capable of slipping into NCAA postseason play. It would look good to slap down these nice girls from New Mexico.

TCU is 11-6 on the year and 2-1 in league play. UNM is 10-2 and 2-1. It probably would be helpful for the Lobos to throw out some road toughness since they next travel to Wyoming (Oct. 14) and Colorado State (Oct. 16).

The CSU visit obviously will be a challenge for UNM. The Rams are No. 18 in the nation. They top the MWC at 3-0. They don't lose at home much. Wyoming is the surprise team in the league at 16-2 and 2-1 in conference.

But back to TCU. The Frogs have teeth in Fort Worth and they also have a terrific trio at the net in 6-foot Irene Hester, 6-2 Christy Hudson and 6-1 Kristen Hester. Irene is a senior and averages 3.68 kills per game. Hudson is at 2.77 and Kristen, a junior, is at 2.29.

"Those three alone can beat you any night by themselves," said Nelson.

The Lobos might have helped the Aztecs beat Lobos on UNM's first road trip. Nelson did not like the team chemistry the Lobos packed into San Diego. That chemical imbalance has been repaired.

"We made some adjustments and really trained hard and made practice harder," said Nelson. "We were disappointed in how the team was playing and I think we had three or four of the hardest practices we've had since I've been here."

Nelson went to work a bit on the Lobos' minds. He also made some adjustments on the court. He moved Ashley Rhoades from the middle to the left side. He moved Kelly Williamson to the right side. "Sometimes those things work. Sometimes they don't," said Nelson.

"I don't think we were getting Ashley enough looks at the ball, but I also think she was playing down a little bit," said Nelson. "She has picked it up. She is an impact player and she will play a big role in the ultimate success of this team."

Saturday, August 22
7:00 PM - 
vs. Alumnae (Exhibition)
Friday, August 28
8:00 AM - 
at Belmont
3:00 PM - 
at Albany
Saturday, August 29
5:00 PM - 
at Ball State