Aug. 18, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- It was the younger of the two Lobo squads that came away victorious on Saturday evening as Lobos past and Lobos present competed in New Mexico's annual volleyball alumni match. The 2012 squad showed endurance in a five-set contest to outlast the alumni, 3-2.
The first three sets all went to extra points with the alumni taking the first and third, 24-26 and 26-28. The Lobos squeaked by the formers, 27-25, in the second set before claiming the fourth and fifth, 25-15 and 15-12.
Head coach Jeff Nelson thought the alumni gave his current Lobos a healthy dose of competition and was pleased with the way his young Lobos responded.
"We struggled in the first three games but we picked it up in the fourth," Nelson said. "Lexi Ross did a good job and Chantale Riddle found her game in sets four and five. Every season we end up having a number of matches that go to five (games), so any practice we can get with it is helpful."
The Lobos were behind most of the deciding set, as the alumni rattled off three unanswered points to open the fifth game. A kill from Riddle got the Lobos on the board and started their slow comeback. With the game locked at 12-12, UNM got another kill from Riddle to pull ahead for good. An alumni attack error and a kill from Elsa Krieg gave the Lobos set and match point. The most prominent weakness Nelson noticed was nerves.
"I thought we made some good plays at good times, but we played nervous for a while," he said. " We need to learn to shake it off and get over it. A lot of times we had four newcomers on the floor, so it was good that we were able to come back and win it. This wasn't a slouch alumni team."
This year's alumni squad had a full roster with over 15 former Lobos seeing court time. Among the 15 were five All-Americans: Pauline Manser, Maria Gurreri, Jeanne Fairchild, Ashley Rhodes and Allison Buck.
Manser, the program's only two-time All-American and a 2000 Olympian, played in the first three sets. Serving as the alumni setter, she recorded four kills, nine digs and 13 set assists.
Jeanne Fairchild and Maria Gurreri led the Lobo Legacies at the net. Fairchild had 14 kills while Gurreri recorded 10.
Riddle led all players with 22 kills and .169 accuracy. Freshman Alijah Gunsaulus also had an exceptional night, recording 11 kills and 16 digs.
Newcomer Lena Skipper served as the Lobo libero for the first two sets before moving to the outside for the final three. She had nine kills and 15 digs.
"It was great to see players who played back in the 80s and 90s come back for this event," Russell said. "This is the biggest turnout we've had since I've been part of the program. We're young and it was a good start. It sends us in to next weekend with some good experience and an idea of what matches will be like."
The Lobos open their season at home with the Sheraton Airport/LA Boxing Lobo Classic Aug. 24-25. New Mexico begins play at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24 against Southern and play another match at 7:30 p.m. versus Duquesne.