ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico volleyball team improved to 14-2 overall and 5-1 in Mountain West play with a five-set win (27-25, 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-4) over San Diego State on Thursday night in front of 1,023 fans in the Johnson Center.
The Aztecs dropped to 8-7 overall and 3-2 in league play.
New Mexico hosts UNLV (9-6 overall, 4-1 MW) on Saturday night at 7 p.m. MT. The Rebels defeated Air Force, 3-1, on Thursday night at USAFA. The Lobos vs. UNLV match is "Jam Johnson" night. All tickest are just $3.
The Lobos led in every set against the Aztecs -- sometimes building leads of five or six points-- but struggled to close until sets four and five.
"We would pull ahead and then just stall. Every game we had leads and then we'd stall," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "I think once we got through game four, it was like everyone took a deep breath and said, 'We are better than this.' The huddle before game five was more energetic and we felt better."
New Mexico claimed a 4-1 lead in the fifth set which quickly grew to a hefty 10-2 advantage before the Lobos shut the door on the Aztecs, 15-4.
"Chantale Riddle had a great end of the match and one of the most big-time hits I've ever seen [in game five]," Nelson said. "Those kinds of things fire you up. Early on we had two big blocks. You get those blocks finally and they make a couple of hitting errors and all the sudden, you're running points.
"We hit our serving target every single time in game five. That made a difference too."
New Mexico turned up the heat at the net in sets four and five, hitting .366 (19-4-41) and .692 (9-0-13), respectively.
The Lobos topped the Aztecs in several categories: hitting percentage (.273-.211), kills (72-64), assists (64-62), and blocks, 12-8.
New Mexico had significant contribution from all parts of its lineup.
Right-side hitter Riddle led all players with 19 kills. The redshirt junior added nine digs and four blocks.
Freshmen outsides Julia Warren and Cassie House added 15 kills and 11 kills, respectively. Senior middle blocker Lexi Ross was the fourth Lobo to reach double-digits in kills with 12. Ross hit .458 as she had just one error on 24 swings.
Sophomore middle blocker Skye Gullatt led the Lobos on defense at the net with seven blocks. She added nine kills and hit .571 (9-1-14).
Redshirt sophomore Hannah Johnson tallied a career-best 64 assists and added eight digs.
Senior Miquella Lovato kept the Lobos in several long rallies and recoreded 25 digs.