Sept. 14, 2010
Tuesday: Lobos 3, NMSU 2
Up Next: Lobos at Hilton Garden Inn Invitational, Sept. 17-18
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The formula for Lobo success Tuesday night in Johnson Center vs. the New Mexico State Aggies seemed simple enough. Let the aggressive and physical Aggies do their net thing and throw back a complete Lobo game.
Toss in fire, composure, determination and pinpoint passing and see if the Aggies could handle all that good Lobo stuff on hostile Lobo turf.
The formula didn't work for the Lobos twice, and early, as the Aggies' physicality at the net pushed them to leads of 1-0 and 2-1. For sure, these hard-hitting Aggie can pound the ball.
However, the formula did prove to be a beauty for the Lobos three times as they rallied for an impressive 3-2 win - 20-25, 25-16, 21-25, 25-17 and 15-7.
"Anytime you can beat the Aggies, it's exciting," said Ashley Rhoades, who came up with 10 kills in the victory that pushed UNM to 5-5 on the year. "I'm glad we did it for our seniors and I'm glad we did it for the team."
The seniors beating Aggies really isn't all that big a deal since they did it last year as juniors, 3-0, on the NMSU court. It was a bigger deal beating the Aggies in Johnson Center since no Lobo team had did that since 2002. In fact, the Aggies had beaten UNM in nine straight matches prior to the 2009 win in Las Cruces.
It might be too early to say the tide has shifted in this Rio Grande Rivalry series, but the Lobos do have back-to-back wins -- and bragging rights for another year.
"We said in the locker room, `This is for New Mexico. We have to prove which is the best New Mexico team out there,'" said Rhoades. "We did really well tonight."
Of course, the plan didn't go exactly as planned in game one. The Aggie took control of the net with a .226 hitting percentage compared to UNM's .053. Not good. That's why the Aggies won 25-20.
The next game was a complete turnaround. The Lobos threw out that complete game thing coupled with a lot of fire and the Aggies got burned 25-16. UNM's hitting percentage soared to .410.
"We wanted to come out and be athletes and just really fight," said Lobo Lisa Meeter, who had 14 kills and 10 digs in the win. "We needed to get this done."
It looked like the Aggies were done after that dominating second game by the Lobos. Give the Aggies credit. They came back for a 25-21 win tossing out - and down - a .387 hitting percentage. The Lobos dipped to .190. It was a tough game for the Lobos to lose after leading 19-17.
"We are still trying to iron out some bumps," said Rhoades. "We just kept going and never gave up. That helped us with momentum."
The Lobos didn't let that third game bother them. They pounded the Aggies 25-17 in the fourth game. The Lobos fell behind 0-2 in the fifth and deciding game, but rallied to go up 7-2, 10-4 and 12-5 to cruise in for the win - and the match.
"New Mexico State is a team that fights and fights," said Lobo coach Jeff Nelson. "I felt like when we passed well, we were in control of the game. When we passed well, we could do pretty much what we wanted with the ball. They are a physical team and we had to move the ball around a lot."
The Lobos came up with some good passing combinations and did a good job putting the ball away. Kelly Williamson had 20 kills and Taylor Hadfield had 19 kills and finished with a solid .366 hitting percentage. Jade Michaelsen had 50 assists and 13 digs. Allison Buck had 15 digs and Meeter chipped in 10 digs.
The win gives New Mexico a 6-0 lead in the Rio Grande Rivalry race. The Lobos also got points in women's golf and women's soccer.
"It's a rivalry and it's intense," said Nelson. "But the teams really respect each other. They are a great program, so it's important for us to beat them."
Said Meeter: "This win gets us back on track and helps us get ready for Florida this week. It was really a good win for us."
The Lobos play three games in the Hilton Inn Garden Invitational in Tampa, Fla., on Friday and Saturday. They open Mountain West Conference play Sept. 23 at San Diego State.