Nov. 17, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Lobos landed three players on the 2011 All-Mountain West Volleyball Team, as announced by the league on Thursday night. Allison Buck, Ashley Rhoades and Kelly Williamson were named to the 17-person team that was selected by the league's eight head coaches. It is the fourth year in a row that New Mexico has placed multiple players on the All-MW Team.
"I think it says a lot about our three seniors that they were all able to make it," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "They were all very deserving. I also think four-straight years with multiple players on the team shows the respect our program has earned."
Buck, who was named the designated libero for the All-MW team, is the fifth repeat All-MW honoree in Lobo volleyball history. Jeanne Fairchild, Lisa Meeter, Taylor Hadfield and Jade Michaelsen were the other Lobos to earn all-MW honors multiple years. Buck certainly made her case this season as she broke the Lobos' single season record in digs and career record in digs. Buck currently has 524 digs heading into the MW Volleyball Championship Tournament, surpassing Sharon Browning's single-season record of 499, set in 1992. She also currently has 1,593 digs for her career, which bested former Lobo Gayle Tripp's career record of 1,578 digs.
"This is Allison's second year as the designated libero," Nelson said. "I think she has been one of the premier players in the conference the last two years. She is certainly extremely deserving of that honor."
Rhoades has been the Lobos' motor this season. As she goes, so does New Mexico's offense. She has recorded out-of-this world stats as a middle blocker. The senior leads not only the Lobos in kills and points, but also the Mountain West. She has recorded 403 kills and 468 points for averages of 3.88 and 4.50 per set to lead the conference.
"Ashley Rhoades has been a player that has proved to be a premier hitter in the conference," Nelson said. "She has been the player that other teams have had to stop and she has managed to put up big numbers despite of that. She led the conference in both points and kills, which is highly unusual for a middle blocker."
Williamson is the Lobos grinder. She gives her all every practice, every lifting session and every match. She simply doesn't know how to do it any other way. Her hard work is reflected on and off the court. Being named all-conference is just another accolade for the senior, who collects academic honors like it's her job. She was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team and is waiting to see if she will be an academic All-American for a second straight season. As far as on-the-court ability is concerned, Williamson ranks third in kills-per-set in the conference with 3.50 and sixth in points-per-set with 3.75.
"I think Kelly has put together a really good second half of the season in conference play," Nelson said. "She has really put up some big numbers the last couple weeks that have kept us in some big matches. She is a really hard worker, maybe the hardest worker on the team, and I am really excited to see her get recognized as well."
The awards banquet was just the beginning of what is going to be a huge weekend of volleyball in the land of enchantment. The Lobos are playing host to the Mountain West Volleyball Championship Tournament which begins Friday, Nov. 18. Quarterfinal matches will be played at noon, 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Johnson Center on Friday. The No. 5 Lobos match up against the No. 4 Wyoming Cowgirls in the 8:30 p.m. match.