Aug. 26, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- In day one of the MCM Elegante Lobo Classic, the University of New Mexico volleyball team won its opening match of the season, 3-1, over South Florida on Friday night in front of 1,879 fans at Johnson Gym.
The Lobos-Bulls match was the second of the night as Nebraska and New Mexico State had the early match. The Huskers took that one, 3-2, over the Aggies.
Senior Kelly Williamson led all hitters with 19 kills. Senior Ashley Rhoades also had an exceptional night at the net, tallying 14 kills for New Mexico, while sophomore setter Mariah Agre had 42 assists.
The Bulls were led by junior J'Beria Davis who had 17 kills. USF's junior setter Jessica Burghart notched 32 assists.
New Mexico out-hit USF .178 to .085.
"It was a little rough at the beginning, but we got the W in the end," Rhoades said. "We need to work through our bumps and first-game-of-the-season jitters."
In the first set, the Lobos and Bulls were point-for-point. New Mexico reached 24 first on a South Florida service error but a Lobo service error tied things up at 24-24. An attack error by the Bulls on the next play gave the Lobos the 25-24 advantage, however, South Florida refused to make things easy for New Mexico.
The point-for-point pattern continued until it was 27-all. A New Mexico attack error and a kill by Valerie El Houssine gave USF the first set, 27-25.
Set two began in much the same manner as the first as the two teams traded points. At 6-all, Williamson laid down a kill that propelled a 7-1 New Mexico run, making it 12-7 in favor of the home team and prompting a USF timeout.
The break in the action didn't seem to faze the Lobos as they rolled out multiple kills - five from Williamson and one from Chantale Riddle, Ashley Newman and Rhoades--and capitalized on some USF errors to make it 24-15. The Bulls were able to sneak four points from New Mexico before a kill fro Rhoades put the set away, 25-19. New Mexico had their best accuracy of the night in the second set, capitalizing on 12-of-27 attempts for a .282 hitting percentage.
The third set yielded the same score, 25-19, with the Bulls hanging with the Lobos for the first six points. New Mexico took a 12-9 lead and held at least a two point or better advantage over USF for the rest of the set.
USF hung around in the fourth set, keeping pace with the Lobos for the majority. With the score at 18-18, the Lobos saw the finish line and sprinted toward it. A Williamson kill followed by a huge block from Rhoades and Lexi Ross put the Lobos up 21-18 and sent the Bulls to their bench for a timeout. USF snuck a point following the breather, but New Mexico was able to find Rhoades at the net and take advantage of attack errors on the part of the Bulls to put the set and the match away with a final score of 25-21.
"I thought it was a good first night," fifth year head coach Jeff Nelson said. "We worked through some of the problems we had in game one and battled back to take control of the match. Ashley Rhoades, Allison Buck and Cara Fisher --a true freshman--all played well. I thought we looked a little nervous but I think we got better as the match went on."
Tournament action resumes Saturday at 5 p.m. as New Mexico State and South Florida play in the first match. New Mexico will take on No. 5 Nebraska in the second match at 7:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to park in Lot G located on the corner of Lomas and University as there will be a shuttle service from that site to the UNM Bookstore. The shuttle service runs two hours prior to the game (5:30 p.m.) until one hour after.
"We're ready to go tomorrow against Nebraska. We've really been looking forward to playing them," Rhoades said.
"I'm excited about tomorrow night," Nelson said. "Nebraska and New Mexico State both looked good, so tomorrow will be a good match."