Sept. 29, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of New Mexico volleyball team won its first conference match of the season, 3-0, over the Air Force Falcons. It was a great confidence booster for the Lobos as they head into a match with conference opponent Boise State at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The Lobos got a little experimental in the match, moving Libero Allison Buck to the outside for the first two sets. After a successful first two sets they brought Buck back to her natural Libero position for the third set.
The Lobos were pumped to find something that had been missing in their previous two matches; their swagger. Look good-feel good, feel good-play good is exactly the motto the Lobos used tonight to defeat the Falcons.
"I thought we played pretty good," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "We were a little tentative in game three falling behind, but overall we played pretty well."
Game One: Lobos 25, Air Force 20
The Lobos got off to a quick start against the Falcons, taking a 6-2 lead. Senior Kelly Williamson paced the Lobos with a couple of kills during that span. The early lead was short lived, however, as the Falcons fought back to tie the game up, 8-8. Claire Bieber, of Fort Collins, Colo., led the way for the Falcons offensively during the run by laying down a nice pair of kills. After the two teams exchanged leads four different times, the Lobos took things into overdrive and closed out the match with a 10-5 run. The Lobos spread things around offensively with Ashley Rhoades leading the way with four kills. Lexi Ross, Buck and Williamson each recorded three.
Game Two: Lobos 25, Air Force 15
The second set was dominated by the Lobos. Buck, the Lobos defensive stalwart, had herself a blast. The senior was all over the place, picking up kills, digs, assists and even blocks. Colorado native, Else Kreig (Granby, Colo.) made her first appearance of the match and got a huge ovation from family and friends after recording her first kill to push the Lobos lead to 21-11. The Lobos hit .379 as a team, which is the best hitting percentage they have recorded in a set since earlier in the season versus Hampton on Sept. 2. If you blinked you may have missed it; that's how fast the Lobos took the second set, winning by a score of 25-15.
"She's amazing," Nelson said of Buck. "She really gets it done for us. There is no question about that."
Game Three: Lobos 25, Air Force 23
The Falcons came out fired up in the third set, taking an early 9-5 lead over the Lobos, prompting Coach Nelson to call a timeout. The timeout helped the Lobos keep their composure, as the team rallied back to pull within two points of the falcons 17-15, before the Falcons were forced to call timeout. Rhoades had herself nine kills total up to this point in the set, but the staggering stat was her hitting efficiency. The senior was hitting an astonishing .500 percent. Behind Rhoades, the Lobos continued to climb back, finally tying the game at 22-22. The Lobos stepped it up in their biggest gut check to date, in a set they may have folded in earlier in the season. The Lobos refused to let the Falcons win by putting the game away 25-23, behind Buck's and Rhoades' performances. It was a breath of fresh air for a team that is still finding its identity.
"It was nice to see us buckle down," Nelson said. "Ashley Rhoades had a couple of good kills and it was just good to see. I am happy with the result."
The Lobos are now 8-5 on the season and 1-1 in the Mountain West as they head into their matchup with Boise State.