Nov. 6, 2009
Thursday: Lobos 3, Utah 1
Saturday: BYU at Lobos, 7 p.m., Johnson Center
Online: GameTracker, live video, results on GoLobos.com
Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The opportunity for the Lobo seniors Saturday night in Johnson Center has the makings of a special way to walk off their home floor -- with a win over Brigham Young.
Of course, it is a payback kind of win. The Lobos went up to Provo, Utah and were slapped down somewhat unexpectedly by the Cougars. It's also a much-needed win as the Lobos try to charge into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large invitation. A win over BYU could just do the trick.
As a senior, you also want to make your final memory on your home court a good one. In fact, if you ask Rose Morris, Anna Lehne and Allie Suiter what their top memories are as Lobos, the finger quickly is pointed at what athletes love to do -- win.
Lehne said one of her best memories as a Lobo was, "beating New Mexico State at their own home. I loved that."
Morris said, "Beating Utah up there (Salt Lake City) as really a great memory and beating New Mexico State at New Mexico State. I think I'll always remember sitting with Allie and Anna on the New Mexico State's floor and taking a picture because we had won and we were so happy."
Still, what so often haunts athletes after they have hung up their jerseys, cleats, or whatever, is stepping away from the friendships, the camaraderie, the bonding that comes when athletes strive as individuals and teams to achieve excellence.
"I'm going to miss the team and all the support we have being Lobos," said Suiter. "It's going to be tough."
Suiter came to New Mexico, in part, because it was close to her hometown of Littleton, Colo., and she wanted her loyal parents to be able to make the short trip down South. Ditto for Lehne from Pueblo, Colo., and Morris from Albuquerque's Sandia High.
These Lobos will be missed. Not simply for their contributions on the court, but for the character and class they have shown off the court. They exemplify what student-athletes should be.
Now, it's go out and beat the Cougars. Get some payback. Get a win.
"We want to tell them, 'It was a fluke and this is our gym,'" Lehne said of BYU's visit.
The Lobos had a noisy crowd of 2,284 Thursday night in their hard-fought 23-25, 25-13, 27-25, 25-20 win over Utah. The Lobos usually do well when Johnson Center is rocking with New Mexico fans. Lobo coach Jeff Nelson wants a repeat performance on Saturday for BYU's venture into hostile Lobo territory.
"Tell our fans how much we need them on Saturday," said Nelson, who saw his Lobos jump to 17-8 overall and 8-5 in the Mountain West race after the Utah win. (Our crowd) makes such a big difference for us."
The Lobos have won four of the past seven matches with BYU, but aren't too happy with the last match: BYU's 3-0 spanking of Lobos in Provo. The Cougars also lead the series 62-11.
"We plan to change things," said Lehne. The timing would be perfect for that change. It's BYU. It's Senior Night.
Here is a quick look at UNM's three seniors:
Anna Lehne (3L; Pueblo, Colo./Pueblo County HS; Accounting): Lehne is a front row starter for the Lobos and three-plus years of hard work is paying off. Lehne recently moved into second place on the UNM career total blocks list. Lehne was named MWC Co-Player of the Week on Nov. 2, her first MWC career honor, and earned tournament MVP honors at the MCM Elegante Lobo Classic on Aug. 28-29
Rose Morris (3L; Albuquerque, N.M./Sandia HS; Education): Morris is a 2009 team captain and a front row starter at L1 for the Lobos. Morris has been a steady player during her career and posted a career match against Baylor earlier this season. Earlier this season, Morris earned Comcast Lobo Challenge All-Tournament team honors. Her senior leadership became stronger off the court after a seven-match hiatus due to a finger injury. The setback made Morris work hard in rehab to get back on the court.
Allie Suiter (3L; Littleton, Colo./Chatfield HS; Exercise Science) ... Allie Suiter has been a key role player for the Lobos at middle blocker over her career. Suiter also has had a strong showing in the classroom, earning the team's Scholar-Athlete Award for three consecutive seasons. Suiter has been a three-time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America nominee, three-time Mountain West Conference Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Mountain West Conference honoree.