Nov. 11, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico volleyball team dropped its bid to move up in the Mountain West standings, losing to Wyoming in a hard fought, 3-2 loss in front of 2,394 fans at Johnson Center.
UNM senior Allison Buck didn't even get a chance to enjoy her career night, as things turned gloomy for the Lobos. The Camas, Wash., native finished the night, tying her career high in digs with 36, and breaking the Lobo all-time single season record in digs with 501, bringing her within eight digs of tying the all-time career mark held by Gayle Tripp at 1,578. Buck's 501 digs this season bests the previous single-season record of 499 held by Sharon Browning, who set it in 1992.
With disappointment in her voice, Buck still managed to be positive in her assessment of the match.
"We did not do very well at Wyoming, losing 3-0, but here we lost in five," Buck said. "It's a better match, but at the same time we know we can beat them. We have a chance to play them at the Mountain West Tournament and we will be at our place again."
The loss is a tough one to swallow for the Lobos because it almost ensures they will finish the season in fifth place in the MW. It's tough because the Lobos were picked to finish second in the conference in the preseason coaches' poll. It's also hard, because the Lobos have gone 20-10 the past two seasons with two NCAA Tournament bids. This year's squad is supremely talented and athletic, but it just hasn't been able to find that continuity for whatever reason.
With one conference game remaining before the MW Tournament, the Lobos hope to find that continuity quickly. That remaining conference match happens to be against the top ranked Colorado State Rams. If the Lobos can beat the Rams, that would give them a whole lot of momentum heading into the MW tournament. And, the Lobos happen to have an ace in the hole, as they host the conference tournament.
Game One: Lobos 25, Wyoming 23
The Lobos started off hot, taking a 5-2 lead, thanks in part to a pair of Ashley Rhoades' kills. The Cowgirls battled back, however, knotting things up at 10 apiece. Jodi Purdy fueled the Cowgirls run with a pair of kills herself, as Wyoming proceeded to take the lead, 17-12. With UNM down 19-16, head coach Jeff Nelson called a timeout in order to get the team to refocus. The timeout did the trick as the Lobos fought back to reclaim the lead, 22-21. Fittingly, Rhoades capped off the set with a kill, giving the Lobos a 1-0 lead after defeating Wyoming in game one. Rhoades finished the set with five kills to lead the Lobos.
Game Two: Wyoming 25, Lobos 20
Once again, the Lobos jumped out to an early 5-2 lead over the Cowgirls. Three of the Lobos' first five points came by way of Cowgirl errors. Wyoming battled back to take the lead, 7-6, and never lost it again. Wyoming outside hitter Camille Coffman really came to life in the second set. The sophomore recorded five kills in the set alone to help Wyoming beat the Lobos in game two. Chantale Riddle recorded three kills for the Lobos in the set, but UNM struggled offensively, hitting .000 as a team. Allison Buck was a bright spot, as usual, for the Lobos. The senior had 13 digs after the completion of game two.
Game Three: Wyoming 25, Lobos 22
Both teams played each other fairly even in set three. With things all tied up at 11-11, Wyoming made its move. The Cowgirls reeled off five straight points sparked by a service error from UNM's Riddle. Fortunately for Lobos fans, UNM wasn't going down without a fight. The Lobos reeled off four straight points of their own, to close Wyoming's lead to 17-16. Junior setter Jordan Russell helped lead the charge with two kills during that span. Unfortunately, that is as close as the Lobos would get, before Wyoming took the set.
Game Four: Lobos 25, Wyoming 20
The Lobos proved their worth in the fourth set. So many times earlier in the season the Lobos would get down on themselves after losing two straight sets, but that wasn't the case this time. UNM's Rhoades and Kelly Williamson both dug deep as they willed the Lobos to win the fourth set. Both senior recorded six kills each in the set alone. Buck was up to 30 digs in the match at this point as well.
Game Five: Wyoming 15, Lobos 13
Things looked great for the Lobos as they led Wyoming, 8-7, at the midway point of the set. But as the team's changed benches, so did the momentum of the game. UNM went up 11-10, but saw its lead slowly slip away as Wyoming scored four straight to get to game point, 14-11. The Lobos got it back to 14-13, but couldn't do any more as Wyoming's Coffman drove home the final kill for the 3-2 win. Rhoades finsihed with a match-high 23 kills and Mariah Agre finished with a match-high 50 assists. Bucks' 36 digs were also a match high.
The loss drops the Lobos to 14-12 on the season and 6-7 in the MW. Colorado State will be the Lobos next opponent on the schedule. The Rams come to Johnson Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday for UNM's senior day. Lobos' fans are encouraged to come out and to say farewell to three great seniors in Buck, Rhoades and Williamson as they will play their final regular-season match ever at Johnson Center.