Aug. 29, 2010
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When you face royalty of college volleyball, you have to figure you might take a few lumps. It was that way Sunday in Johnson Center for the New Mexico Lobos.
They played arguably the most storied volleyball program in NCAA history and the Stanford Cardinal won 25-14, 25-18, 25-20 for a 3-0 sweep.
The Lobos were not happy with the outcome and not simply because they didn't win a game in the championship of the MCM Elegante Classic. They were unhappy that they waited too long to realize the Cardinal weren't Superwomen wearing capes and flying above the rafters to drop their volleyball bombs.
"It was like in the first two games we were waiting for them to make mistakes and we didn't go out and try to earn our own points," said Lobo Taylor Hadfield. "We talked about it at the break and said we needed to play harder and get our hits together. That's what we came out and did."
Said Lobo coach Jeff Nelson: "We came out slow and flat. I'm a little disappointed because all we asked was from our kids today was to battle and play hard. As the match went on, we started to see that, but I thought in Game One we were really flat. When you are playing a great team, that's not an option."
Stanford, rated No. 4 in the nation, ran out of a 6-2 lead into a 13-3 lead to cruise to the first set win at 25-14. The Cardinal made it look easy. The Lobos picked it up a bit in the second set and trailed 16-13 and 18-15 before the Cardinal jumped up 22-15 and held on for the 25-18 win.
The Lobos' intensity and confidence changed for the final set. The Lobos led 4-2 and trailed 9-8 before the Cardinal drifted away to a 24-15 lead. The Lobos then threw out five unanswered points to claw to 24-20. Stanford called a timeout at 24-19. The Cardinal won 25-20.
"It wasn't that close, but we could feel a difference in the third game," said Hadfield. "Stanford is a great team. It was a tough match. We knew they were going to be able to hit over us and through us, but we felt we could have done better.
"It helps us to play a high-end team like Stanford. We need to learn from this, refocus and let it help us when we go to Hawaii."
The Lobos (2-1) next play Thursday, Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. (MT) against Michigan State in the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic. It's a four-day tourney with the Lobos playing three teams in three days, including No. 5 Hawaii and No. 10 USC.
The Lobos placed Hadfield and Kelly Williamson on the all-tourney team. Stanford's MVP was 6-foot-4 Alix Klineman and teammates Carly Wopat, Cassidy Lichtman and Gabi Ailes made the all-tourney team. Pepperdine's Kim Hill also made the tourney team.
Stanford's Klineman had 19 kills against five errors in her 45 attack attempts for a .311 hitting percentage. Stanford's hitting percentage were .231 in the first set, .390 in the second set and .205 in the final set. UNM went .133, .148 and .051.
Jade Michaelsen had 16 assists. Stanford had 13 serving errors to four for the Lobos. UNM's Allison Buck had 10 digs, Lisa Meeter had nine digs and Michaelsen had eight digs. Stanford also got 10 kills from Rachel Williams.
Stanford had 51 kills to 20 for the Lobos. The Stanford front line included Cardinal blockers going 6-4, 6-6, 6-5 and 6-2.
"They are so physical," Nelson said of Stanford. "They were blocking so well. We had to start figuring out where we could go with the ball. I think we should have battled better.
"I thought Stanford stepped up. They are used to this kind of environment. You are seeing the best of the best (in Stanford). We are moving in that direction with our recruiting. We need to get bigger and more physical. They (Cardinal) are such a presence."
The Lobos' second-place finish in the MCM Elegante was carved with 3-0 wins over Pepperdine and Tulane. The crowd Sunday was 3,831. It was the seventh largest crowd in Lobo volleyball history and the fourth largest for Johnson Center.