Oct. 1, 2011
BOISE, Idaho – The University of New Mexico volleyball team welcomed Boise State to the Mountain West in one of the most exciting matches of the season. The Lobos were electric in their 3-1 win over Boise State. Senior Ashley Rhoades was out of this world, setting new career highs in kills (31) and points (36).
"Ashley is just that good and she has the ability to do that all night,"head coach Jeff Nelson said. "I think that when you are a senior and you really want this, you have to make it happen and she did tonight."
The Lobos finally came out on top when push came to shove. After weeks of the coaches coaxing the players into toughening up, the results finally came about. UNM took the first two games over the Broncos 30-28 and 25-23, only to surrender the third game 23-25, before finally finishing the Broncos off, 26-24.
"Any conference match you win on the road is good and we got two," Nelson said. "It was just a great weekend for us."
Saturday night was breast cancer awareness night for Boise State. Scattered through the crowd were Broncos’ fans wearing pink in support of the cause. The Lobos are big supporters of cancer awareness as well and will host their “Think Pink” night on Oct. 29 against Air Force.
Game One: Lobos 30, Boise State 28
One thing the Lobos did was change up the lineup a little bit, starting true freshman Jayla Trombley on the left side. The first set started off tight until the Broncos pulled out to a 10-6 lead, prompting head coach Jeff Nelson to call a timeout. The timeout didn’t seem to snap the Lobos out of their funk as Boise State continued to pour it on, extending the lead to 15-8. One thing the Lobos were doing well was blocking the ball. Blocking has been a weakness for the Lobos for the majority of the season thus far. After taking a second timeout, the Lobos finally seemed to come back to life, closing the Broncos’ lead to 16-11. Senior Ashley Rhoades was playing big, as usual, for the Lobos, coming up with key blocks and kills. Her biggest play came when she made a huge block solo to bring the match to 16-12 in Boise State’s favor. That block not only pumped the rest of the team up, but it seemed to switch Rhoades into “beast mode.” The senior reeled off four huge kills to give the Lobos their first lead since they led 5-4. From there both teams went back-and-forth, trading game points until finally Rhoades put the dagger in the Broncos’ hearts, giving UNM the game, 30-28. Rhoades and fellow senior Kelly Williamson were huge, coming up with eight and six kills on .500 and .556 hitting efficiencies, respectively.
Game Two: Lobos 25, Boise State 23
The Lobos came out impassioned in the second set. The ladies finally seemed to be responding to the coaches’ attempts to toughen them up. The set was shaping up to be another close one, as the Lobos trailed, 8-7, early. Rhoades picked up right where she left off, spearheading the Lobos’ offensive attack. Behind Rhoades, the Lobos regained the lead, 13-11, at the mid portion of the set. Boise State’s Brittany Reardon proved to be the nemesis of the Lobos. The redshirt freshman led the team with six kills up to that point of the match. Behind Reardon and senior Breann Nesselhuf, who also had six kills thus far, the Broncos took the lead back from the Lobos to go up 18-16. After Nelson called timeout, the Lobos roared right back, claiming the lead once again, 19-18. The match mimicked the motions of a yo-yo, up and down, up until the final point. With the match tied at 23-23, Mariah Agre snuck a kill over the net, and on the next play Elsa Krieg and Williamson put up a huge block on Boise State’s Reardon to give the Lobos the game, 25-23.
Game Three: Boise State 25, Lobos 23
It was much of the same story in game three. Both teams played the set extremely close. There were six different ties in the set until Boise State opened up a 14-10 lead, forcing UNM’s Nelson to call a timeout. After the timeout, the Lobos clawed their way back into the game. UNM was able to close the deficit and tie things up at 16-16 behind stellar play from unlikely sources including: a pair of freshman in Krieg and Trombley, as well as sophomore Lexi Ross. Trombley and Ross came up with the block that tied things up and Krieg threw down a nice kill. Rhoades continued to dominate at the net with seven kills up to this point in the match, giving her 21 overall. At one point, the senior from Rio Rancho High School was responsible for five-straight Lobo points (four kills and one block); in turn giving the Lobos a 22-21 lead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Lobos lost their first set of the match, 23-25.
Game Four: Lobos 26, Boise State 24
UNM’s Rhoades used the third set to tie and surpass her previous career high in kills (26) and points (30.5). She was feeling it all night and it was clear that she was the best athlete on the court. The Lobos jumped out to an early 8-4 lead over the Broncos, as the team rallied behind Rhoades. After the early lead, Boise State crept back into the set, tying the match up, 18-18, behind the play of Reardon and Nesselhuf. The match continued to remain close, with Boise State actually taking its first lead of the set, 22-21. With the score at 25-24 in the Lobos favor, the energy in the gym was seismic. It was fitting that the Lobos would win off a Rhoades block assisted by Agre.
The Lobos’ Rhoades completely eclipsed her previous career highs in kills and points, finishing the match with 31 and 36, respectively. A really good sign for the Lobos was they recorded a season high in team blocks with 15.
UNM is now 9-5 on the season with a 2-1 record in the Mountain West. Next, the Lobos will take part in their portion of the Rio Grande Rivalry against New Mexico State in a match slated for 7 p.m. on Oct. 4 in Las Cruces, N.M. The game will be televised live by Comcast on Fox Sports Arizona, Altitude Sports and ESPN3.