Nov. 11, 2010
Lobo Volleyball In Johnson Center
Thursday: Lobos 3, Colorado State 0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-23)
Saturday: 1 p.m., Vs. Wyoming, Johnson Center
GoLobos.com: Recap, GameTracker, Stats
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was a win for a moment, a win for a special team, a win for a program and even a win for so many Lobos before them who could never quite figure out how to knock a monkey named Rams off their backs.
The Jeff Nelson Lobos of 2010 figured it out. They beat down the Colorado State Rams 3-0 Thursday night in a wild and crazy Johnson Center. The Lobos did it with magnificent overall floor play, bold digs from the back row, timely serving, and aggressive play at the net. They did it with heart and passion.
But maybe the key factor in this stunning upset over the No. 13 Rams was the Lobos decided to bite back. They fell into an impossible 13-5 hole in the first game and the Rams were showing why they had beaten the Lobos in 29 of the previous 30 meetings. The Lobos also were playing like a team that had lost 29 of 30.
"I think we were tired of the same regime we always give them. We wanted to push back," said senior Lisa Meeter.
Said senior Jade Michaelsen: "We are a team that needs to figure things out and then we go for it. We had to go out there and be aggressive and take risks and that's what we did."
The Lobos came out a little bit soft, a little bit tentative and maybe a little bit cerebral. Then they got net nasty. Then they slapped back. UNM went from 13-5 to down 14-13. CSU then went up 18-15 and appeared to be back in control. The Lobos outscored CSU 10-3 the rest of the way for a solid 25-21 win.
You could toss down this 3-0 sweep of CSU as one of UNM's best wins ever and you could say Game One was one of the most amazing games ever. You simply don't rally from a 13-5 hole to beat the No. 13 team in the nation.
But nobody told the Lobos that.
"Some nights you have to step it up and do something special for someone else and this was one of those nights."
Lobo Coach Jeff Nelson
"They might have underestimated us, but we were out to prove a point," said Michaelsen. "We worked so hard for this moment. We are not a No. 2 team. We deserve to be up there with the best of them and we want to stay there all the way to December (NCAA time)."
The Lobos came out in Game Three and went up 8-1, 16-10 and 23-16. CSU made a run to cut the gap to 24-22, but UNM held on for the 25-22 win. The Lobos took a 2-0 lead into the break.
CSU came out refocused and took over the net early, jumping to a 7-1 lead. The Lobos roared back to take an 8-7 lead. UNM was up 17-13 when CSU called a timeout. It was a pivotal point in that game. The Rams needed a rally. Instead, UNM used three Meeter spikes to help roll out a 21-14 lead.
But the Rams didn't fold. They cut UNM's lead to 23-21 and 24-23 before a Michaelsen set led to a Meeter spike and it was over. Meeter dropped to her knees as Michaelsen and the rest of the Lobos piled on.
Meeter had a special night. She ended with 15 kills and 15 digs to show why she is one of the top all-around players in the nation. Meeter is as much defense as she is offense.
"Lisa has been amazing," said Nelson. "Against a huge squad tonight, she came up with big kill after big kill."
The play of the back row was huge for the Lobos in this victory over No. 13. The Rams are tall and they crush the ball. UNM's Allison Buck had 13 digs, Michaelsen had nine, Mariah Agre seven and Miquella Lovato had six. UNM had 59 digs to 43 for CSU.
The Rams usually beat teams at the net, but not this night. UNM had 40 kills and 23 errors for a .137 hitting percentage. CSU had 37 kills and 23 errors to hit .110. The play at the net might have been a wash, but UNM's overall skills and passing were superior to CSU's. Thus the 3-0 win for Lobos.
"They played their game and we played ours and ours worked just fine tonight," said Michaelsen. "This win was very, very special."
It was special for Nelson, too. His Lobo program is fast approaching the bar set by CSU, but he had yet to beat the Rams.
"In rebuilding the program, this was the one team left in the conference we hadn't beaten," he said. "It was a huge win.
"We played with heart and passion. We fought like heck tonight. We had to kick it in."
Said Meeter: "We have been wanting to do this for a while. Our team came together and played with heart and passion. Even when we were down, we kept going."
Meeter said after hitting the match-winning spike she became lost in the moment and lost in the embrace of the gutsy, wonderful, amazing Lobo team that poured over her. "I couldn't even think; it was so emotional," she said.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.