Oct. 17, 2009
Saturday: UNLV 3, Lobos 0
Up Next: Vs. Wyoming, Oct 22, Johnson Center
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com Two steps forward. One step back.
The Lobos registered two of the biggest wins in school history with wins at Utah and at New Mexico State, but couldn't back up that progress in Johnson Center Saturday afternoon as the Lobos fell 3-0 to the UNLV Rebels.
"I'm really, really, really disappointed," said Lobo coach Jeff Nelson.
Said sophomore Ashley Rhoades, who led UNM with nine kills: "It hurts. We worked so hard to beat Utah and New Mexico State in their house and then this."
The Rebels strolled into Johnson with a mediocre 4-11 mark and coming off a loss at TCU. The Rebs were supposed to roll over to the talented Lobos on the Johnson floor. It never happened. UNLV took control of all three games down the stretch to sweep UNM and drop the Lobos to 13-7 overall and 4-4 in Mountain West Conference play.
"It seemed like once someone made one mistake, it just piled on," said Rhoades. "We just have to move on."
Said Nelson. "The team showed no intensity. Our body language was unbelieveable and all we talked about all week was, 'You got to be tough. You got to be tough.' I'm mostly disappointed in our seniors. I'm being critical, but at some point the seniors need to step up and take ownership of their season."
On Saturday, it was the Rebels who stepped up to take ownership of each game when it counted. They broke out of a 19-18 hole in the first game to win and took over the second two games just past the midway point. UNLV won 25-21, 25-18, 25-18.
"We should have beaten them," said Rhoades. "I don't even know what happened. We should have played better."
Said Nelson: "We gave them a game plan, but they did whatever they wanted to out there."
After Rhoades' nine kills, UNM got eight from Taylor Hadfield. However, her attack percentage was .040, with seven errors. Lisa Meeter was a minus .048 and UNM ended up hitting a dismal .076 as a team. UNLV was paced by Cursty Jackson with 17 kills and Kelsey Keeler with 11. UNLV hit .301 as a team, going .387 on attacks in the first game.
The struggling Rebs were supposed to come into Albuquerque as easy prey for the Lobos. It was the Rebs who played consistent and focused throughout the match.
The Lobos grabbed a 3-2 lead early in Game One, but UNLV controlled the game most of the way to the final. UNLV had leads of 5-4, 6-5, 8-6, 10-8 and 12-9 before Nelson called a timeout to talk to his troops. UNLV came out of the break and went up 13-9 and then 14-10.
The Lobos then scratched back to 14-13 on a block by Hadfield. It was the Rebels turn to bring their girls to the bench for a chat. Hadfield drilled a spike to pull UNM to 15-14. UNM worked the count to 16-all and stayed tight at 17-all. Finally, UNM took the lead at 18-17.
A UNLV spike tied it at 18-all, but UNM went up 19-18. Rebs tied it 19-all and never trailed again. The Rebs' Jackson took over the net at the end. Her block gave the Rebs 20-19 lead. A Jackson bomb from the middle made is 22-20. Nelson called time.
A quick set for Jackson made it 24-21 and Jackson teammed on a block to nail the 25-21 win.
Jackson paced the first game with eight kills and three blocks. The Rebs had a .387 attacking percentage to .172 for the home team. UNM got three kills from Rhoades and Michaelsen in that game. Samantha Richard had 17 assists for the Rebs.
Second game? Much like the first. The Lobos quickly worked themselves into a 7-2 hole and Nelson beckoned his Lobos to the sideline for a conference. The Lobos came out of the break and went down 8-2. Morris finally pounded one down to snap UNLV's run at 8-3. A Hadfield hammer made it 8-4. The Lobos needed a run. A nice rally made it 8-5. A Michaelsen serve was not returned and it was 8-6. The Lobos were scratching back.
The momentum then shifted back to the UNLV side of the net. They score was 12-11 when the Rebs rolled off seven straight point to take control of the game 19-11. The Rebs then hit a snag on the scoreboard as UNM upped its intensity. When the score was cut to 22-17, UNLV had a team talk.
The Rebs only needed to play 50-50 ball the rest of the way in to take a 2-0 lead into the break. They did better than that and pounded out the 25-18 win.
The Rebs again came out on top in attack numbers hitting .258 to .081 for the Lobos. The Rebs' numbers dropped from the first game, but so did the Lobos. Jackson went into the break with 13 kills and teammate Keeler added eight. UNM had seven from Rhoades and six from Hadfield. Michaelsen had 18 assists. Richard had 27 for UNLV. The Rebs were hitting .323 for the two games with UNM at .121.
Third game? A lot like the second game. It was a see-saw battle from start to almost to the end. A quick Michaelsen flip gave UNM a 6-4 lead, but the Rebs quickly tied it at 6-all. The Rebs biggest lead early was 16-13 and Nelson pulled his team into another timeout.
The break didn't help the Lobos much as UNLV rolled out an 18-14 lead. Nelson decided to talk to his Lobos again. UNLV was seven points away from a sweep. A few seconds later it was 22-14. The Lobos were struggling. A long Lobo hit made it 23-14. UNM broke UNLV's run 23-15, 23-16, 23-17. A long UNM serve put the Rebs one point away from the upset. They got it 25-18.
The Lobos, ranked No. 22 in nation with a 1,500 average, drew 1,508 against the Rebs.