Sept. 8, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The New Mexico volleyball team (3-5) opened the Comcast Lobo Invitational with a 3-1 win over UTEP in Johnson Center tonight thanks largely to sophomore Gayle Tripp's career-high 29 digs. Senior Kelly Therkelsen and sophomore Jeanne Fairchild led the offense, recording 17.5 points each.
"I think the most important thing (about the win tonight) is that our first contact got better," head coach Kelley McKee said. "We passed and dug at a higher level. We are working on converting off of our digs and we still have a lot of room to get better in that aspect. But we are heading in a good direction."
Both teams battled closely in the opening game and were tied for the 11th time at 23-23. Tripp stepped behind the line to serve for the Lobos, leading them on a 5-0 run. Freshman Anna Lehne forced down a pass from sophomore Sarah Kwasigroch, putting the Lobos at game point. UTEP rallied for two points but it wasn't enough as sophomore Joelle Ingram converted on her first kill of the night, clinching the game 30-26.
"Gayle's digs in game one really turned it around for us," McKee said. "That defensive effort and hitting out of the back row was a great outlet for us and it added balance to our attack. Tonight was a good demonstration of what we are capable of."
Several errors found New Mexico in an early hole, trailing 7-3 to start game two. Following a kill from Lehne, Tripp went back to serve and rallied the Lobos with another run, tying the game at 7. Tied at 10, Therkelsen sparked a 12-5 UNM run thanks to three kills and two blocks. The Lobos cruised from there to a 30-22 victory.
UTEP was excellent in game three, hitting .548 (18K-1E-31TA) in its 30-16 win. Even at 9, the Lobos committed nine errors as the Miners outscored them 20-7.
Early in game four, UNM and UTEP traded points with neither team holding more than a three point advantage. Fairchild extended the Lobos' 11-8 lead with two consecutive kills followed by two straight kills from freshman Allison Suiter. Freshman Rose Morris' three kills toward the end of the game put the match well out of reach as Lobos won 30-17.
Fairchild recorded a team-high 13 kills and four aces while Therkelsen notched 11 kills and a team-high seven blocks. Lehne added 11 kills and four blocks. Kwasigroch passed out a team-leading 41 assists while Tripp's 29 digs was a team best.
"Jeanne settled into the lineup in Texas and had a breakthrough week in practice leading up to this tournament," McKee said. "She is getting better with time and is adding a lot to our team offensively and emotionally."
The Lobos return to the court tomorrow, taking on Dartmouth (0-1) at noon and Cal State Fullerton (6-0) at 7 p.m. The Titans defeated the Big Green, 3-0 in the earlier game this evening.