Sept. 17, 2011
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The University of New Mexico volleyball team got a little taste of redemption on the second day of the Pitt Blue and Gold Classic as the Lobos downed the Delaware Blue Hens, 3-1, Saturday afternoon.
The Lobos were paced by career days had by Kelly Williamson and Allison Buck. Williamson played her most complete game of the year, setting a new career-high in kills with 23. The 6-2 senior from Buenos Aires, Argentina played with a bravado that all of the coaches new she already had in her. After their slow start, the Lobos fed off Williamson's confidence and never looked back.
"She really had a great game," Head coach Jeff Nelson said of Williamson. "She really got up and got after it and I just really thought she did a nice job offensively for us."
Simply put, Buck is just a gamer. The senior from Camas, Wash., set another career-high in digs with 36, besting her previous career high of 34 set Sept. 9 against UC Irvine. She currently ranks third all-time at UNM in career digs and recently broke into the top ten in all-time digs in the Mountain West.
"Allison Buck had another ridiculously good match," Nelson said. "There isn't much more she can do for us. She has really been amazing."
Game One: Delaware 25, Lobos 21
The Lobos came out a little bit sluggish, falling behind 3-0 early, but it was only a matter of time before the Lobos picked up their pace. UNM got itself back into the game with a couple Ashley Rhoades kills and a Mariah Agre service ace to tie things up, 4-4. With Ashley Newman a little banged up, the Lobos put a new face on the court in true freshman Elsa Kreig, who made the start in place of Newman. The Lobos seemed to have trouble finding team chemistry throughout the first set, but remained in the game regardless. The lineup changes seemed to keep the Lobos looking for some consistency, as they fell behind 19-11 to the Blue Hens. Kim Stewart shined for Delaware, recording five kills for the Blue Hens in the set. Sensing the urgency, the Lobos finally started to play with some heated emotion, cutting Delaware's lead to 19-16. Williamson led the way for the Lobos offensively with five kills, while hitting .500. Unfortunately, Williamson's offensive output wasn't enough for the Lobos to overcome their chemistry issues as Delaware took the set 25-21.
"We put Ashley Rhoades on the outside to begin the game and we probably shouldn't have done that," Nelson admitted. "We were searching for who was going to fill the role Ashley Newman was playing."
Game Two: Lobos 25, Delaware 13
The Lobos came out with a vengeance in game two. Behind Mariah Agre, Williamson and Rhoades, the Lobos exploded to take a commanding 9-2 lead. Both Agre and Rhoades had two kills during the stretch, while Williamson added three. The Lobos looked much more comfortable in this set. All of the ladies were communicating and seemed to be on the same page. Defensively, Buck was gold once again. The senior already had 19 total digs through the first two sets. Williamson continued her onslaught, adding another six kills in the set to give her 11 for the match. Rhoades was firing on all cylinders as well, bringing her kill total to nine for the match. The three seniors helped the Lobos dominate the set. UNM definitely made a statement, winning the second set, 25-13, as both teams headed to the lockerooms.
Game Three: Lobos 25, Delaware 16
Game three was played a little closer than game two, in the beginning that is. The Lobos and Blue Hens were within at least five points of each other until the Lobos busted things open with the score at 15-10 in the Lobos favor. From there the Lobos' Williamson completely took over, as she continued to enjoy her season awakening. The coaching staff has expected big things out of Williamson since before the season started, and while she has played great up to this point, it wasn't until this match with Delaware that she finally stepped up her play to a whole new level. Her confidence was beaming throughout the entire match and it became evident that the rest of the Lobos would follow. Agre, UNM's setter, had some very sneaky kills during the set herself. There were multiple times the sophomore would fake the set and push the ball over the net at the last second. Thanks to the momentum Williamson provided, the Lobos were able to take game three, 25-16, from the Blue Hens.
Game Four: Lobos 25, Delaware 23
Delaware hung tough in the third set. The Blue Hens certainly proved they weren't the type of team that would just roll over for the Lobos. The Lobos found themselves in a bit of a battle with Delaware, as the two teams traded leads four times up until the Lobos were forced to call a timeout when Delaware pulled ahead, 11-9. The two teams continued to go back and forth with each other until the Lobos were finally able to put away the pesky Blue Hens, 25-23.
Williamson recorded a double-double, finishing the match with a career-high 23 kills to go along with 12 digs. Buck recorded a new career-high in digs with 36. Buck continues to put on fantastic displays of defense on a nightly basis.
With the victory, the Lobos are now 1-1 in the tournament and 6-3 on the season. UNM has one more match left in the tournament, which takes place today at 3 p.m. MT against Temple.