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UNM Hosts Fresno State & San Josť State for Final Regular-Season Matches
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/25/2013

LOBO VOLLEYBALL - FINAL REGULAR-SEASON MATCHES

Tuesday: Lobos vs. Fresno State, 6 p.m. MT
Follow Along: Live Stats | Live Streaming (ProView Networks)
Wednesday: Lobos vs. San José State, 7 p.m. MT -- SENIOR NIGHT
Follow Along: Live Stats | Live Streaming (MWN)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- After a pair of sweeps in Mountain West play last week, the Lobo volleyball team returns to the Johnson Center for its final two matches of the regular season. New Mexico hosts Fresno State at 6 p.m. MT on Tuesday and will close with San José State at 7 p.m. MT on Wednesday -- which is also UNM's senior night.

With a 22-7 overall and 12-6 MW mark, the Lobos enter the week in second place in the conference standings and will look to defend that stance. This year's seniors - outside hitter Lena Skipper, middle blocker Lexi Ross and libero Miquella Lovato - will look to lead the team to victories No. 23 and No. 24 on the season.

Head coach Jeff Nelson says he has challenged his Lobo veterans to figure out what they want their legacy to be. He hinted to the trio that this year's squad has a chance to have the most Lobo wins in his era -- and in the last 22-plus years.

UNM's 22 wins ties the most recorded by a Lobo squad under head coach Jeff Nelson (also done in 2008). Should New Mexico reach 23, it will tie the most Lobo wins in 22 seasons as the 1991 team, under the direction of Laurel Brassey Iversen, went 23-6.

Should the Lobos reach 24 wins, it's the most since 1988 when UNM went 25-5 (Blase Czerniakowski & Brassey Iversen co-coached).

ABOUT FRESNO STATE

Fresno State is 17-13 overall and in a three-way tie for third in the conference standigns with an 11-7 mark. Fresno State is 5-3 on the MW road.

New Mexico played at Fresno State on Oct. 17 with that match resulting in a five-set loss to the Bull Dogs. 

"We lost in five at Fresno...it was a great match and we actually had a match point in Game Four and let it get away," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "They're a really good team. They're a match behind us in the conference standings. They had a tough weekend last weekend with Wyoming and Colorado State. They're a senior-led team, so we expect that they'll come out and battle hard.

"Korrin Wild is a candidate for conference Player of the Year and has had a great season. They have a great middle in Maci Murdock who is in the top-two in the conference in hitting. They've got a lot of good weapons."

The Bulldogs are led by a trio of seniors in outside hitters Korrin Wild and Marissa Brand and right side Holly Franks who average 3.75, 3.15 and 2.79 kills-per-set, respectively. Junior middle blocker Maci Murdock adds 2.11 kills-per-set and hits .371.

Junior setter Christina Lee dishes out 10.44 7.90 assists-per-set and freshman libero Maggie Eppright digs at a 3.52 per-set rate.

Fresno State leads the MW in aces-per-set with a 1.26 average. Franks leads the Bulldogs and is third in the MW with 35 ace serves on the season (0.32/set).

ABOUT SAN JOSÉ STATE

The Spartans enter the week No. 9 in MW standings with an 8-21 overall and 5-13 MW record. San José State is 3-10 in three-set matches, 1-6 in four-set matches and 3-7 in matches that go to five. The Trojans took preseason MW No. 1 San Diego State in five sets at home on Nov. 7 before defeating UNLV in five on Nov. 9, also in San José.

SJSU went 0-2 last week with an 0-3 loss to No. 10 Colorado State and a five-set loss to Wyoming, both matches were at home.

The Lobos played at San José State on Oct. 19 and came away with a 3-1 win.

Senior outside hitter Hanah Blume leads the Spartans with a 3.63 kills-per-set average. She adds 3.18 digs-per-set. Mary Alice O’Reilly and Lauren Jacobsen add 2.93 and 2.42 kills-per-set, respectively. O’Reilly leads the Spartans with 1.00 blocks-per-set.

Sophomore Michaela Leonard handles setting duties and averages 11.13 assists-per-set and adds 1.82 digs-per-set. Sophomore Cori O’Donoghue tallies 2.73 digs-per-set.

LOWDOWN ON THE LOBOS

The Lobos are second in the Mountain West standings entering the final week of regular-season matches and are coming off a pair of sweeps in Mountain West play last week, starting with Air Force at home on Nov. 20 before topping Nevada in Reno on Nov. 23. 

New Mexico leads the Mountain West in opponent hitting percentage in overall matches, holding foes to .153 accuracy. The Lobos are No. 3 in the conference and No. 31 in the nation in blocks-per-set for overall matches, with an average of 2.68.

Redshirt junior Chantale Riddle continues to pace the Lobos and the MW in overall and conference-only matches with 4.06 kills-per-set and 4.75 points-per-set. In MW-only matches, she averages 4.10 kills-per-set and 4.72 points-per-set. She is No. 30 in the nation in points-per-set and No. 41 for kills-per-set. Riddle is also UNM’s leader in aces with 16 on the season.

Outside hitters Cassie House and Devanne Sours add 2.49 and 1.66 kills-per-set apiece, while senior middle blocker Lexi Ross hits at a team-best .339 clip while averaging 1.99 kills-per-set and 1.12 blocks-per-set.

Redshirt sophomore Hannah Johnson handles setting duties for UNM and dishes out 10.79 assists-per-set, which ranks her fourth in the MW in overall matches. She is second in the league in double-doubles in overall matches with 15 and is tied for third in MW only matches with eight. Senior libero Miquella Lovato is second in the league in digs-per-set in overall (4.75) and MW-only matches with an average of (4.69).

Sophomore middle blocker Skye Gullatt is the highest ranked underclassman in the MW top-10 for blocks at fourth with 1.20 stuffs-per-set.

WIN NO. 2O OF 2013 -- CHANCE FOR MOST WINS IN NELSON ERA

For the 12th time in program history, and the fifth time under head coach Jeff Nelson (seven seasons), the Lobos have achieved a 20-win season.

The win against the Wolf Pack on Nov. 23 was No. 22 for UNM in 2013, which ties the most victories recorded by a Lobo squad under Jeff Nelson (also done in 2008). With two regular-season matches remaining, New Mexico has a chance to tied and/or surpass the most wins recorded by a Lobo squad in 22 seasons. The Lobos of 1991, under the direction of Laurel Brassey Iversen, went 23-6.

Should the Lobos reach 24 wins, it's the most since 1988 when UNM went 25-5 (Blase Czerniakowski & Brassey Iversen co-coached).

The most wins in a single season ever for Lobo volleyball was 28 -- done in 1983, also by Brassey-mentored squad.

LOBOS TO HONOR SENIORS ON WEDNESDAY

Following Wednesday night’s match, the Lobos will honor seniors Lena Skipper, Lexi Ross and Miquella Lovato.

"I think our seniors are excited about the year they've had and they're closing out excellent careers," Nelson said of his trio of seniors. "Lexi and Miquella have had great senior years. Lena started out a little tough, coming in injured, but I think she's been able to contribute a lot lately and seems to be a lot happier with her role right now. And she was Academic All-District earlier this month, so I think it's really come together for all three of them." 

 #4 LENA SKIPPER (MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA)

Skipper is a two-year letterwinner who transferred to UNM in fall 2012. As a junior, she played in all 33 matches and made 31 starts, and was second on the team in kills with 233. Skipper had six double-doubles in 2012 and reached double-digits in digs in 15 matches. One of the best matches of Skip’s career was at home against Boise State on Oct. 4, 2012 in which she tallied a career-high 16 kills, hit .317 (16-3-41) and recorded 10 digs.

Entering this week, Skipper has played in 24 matches in 2013. She has defended well in the back court and provided tough serving for the Lobos this season.

A standout in the classroom, Skipper was a fall 2012 Academic All-Mountain West honoree and was named Capital One Academic All-District earlier this month for carrying a 4.05 GPA -- the highest GPA of all Division I volleyball student-athletes honored by Capital One this year. Skipper is majoring in liberal arts.

#6 LEXI ROSS (LAKE OSWEGO, ORE.)

Lexi Ross is a four-year letterwinner who has primarily been a middle blocker in her time at UNM, but has also played outside and even libero. Entering this week’s matches, Ross has played in 107 contests and made 58 starts -- including every match this season.

Ross has had her best season in 2013, as she’s averaged nearly 2.0 kills-per-set and has led the team and ranked in the top-10 in the Mountain West conference for hitting accuracy -- currently hitting .339. She has also averaged above 1.1 blocks-per-set all season and has reached double-digits in kills in eight matches.

Ross’ career-best hitting percentage was a .545 (13-1-22) which she recorded against Northwestern State on Aug. 31, 2013 at the Arkansas Invitational. She had a career-high 10.0 blocks in the Lobos’ 3-2 win at New Mexico State on Sept. 23 and tallied a career-best 23 digs in the Lobos’ 3-2 win at Air Force on Nov. 1, 2012.

Ross will leave UNM ranked in the career top-10 for block assists (currently has 257) and in the single-season top-10 for hitting efficiency (currently at .339) as well as single-season total blocks (currently has 116.0).

Ross is a two-sport student-athlete as she throws javelin on the Lobo outdoor track & field team. A two-time fall Academic All-Mountain West honoree and 2012-13 Mountain West Scholar Athlete, Ross is majoring in studio art.

 #21 MIQUELLA LOVATO (POJOAQUE, N.M.)

Miquella Lovato is a four-year letterwinner who has been a staple in the Lobos’ lineup from day one. Heading into this week, she has played in all but five matches in her four years at UNM, serving as a defensive specialist her first two seasons before taking over as the Lobos’ libero for her junior and senior years.

As a junior, Lovato was named the Mountain West Designated Libero as she led the league in digs-per-set in conference matches with 240 (a 4.17 average). She had 465 digs total in 2012, which ranks third in UNM single-season history. 

Lovato was selected as the league’s Preseason Designated Libero for 2013. She is second in the MW in digs-per-set with a 4.75 average and is second on the team in ace serves with 14.

Lovato recorded her 1,000th career dig on Sept. 14 against Northern Arizona, becoming the 13th Lobo to reach the milestone. 

Her season-high is 26, which came in UNM’s 3-2 win at New Mexico State on Sept. 23. Her career-high is 27, which she did twice last year; first in a five-set win over University of Arkansas-Little Rock on Sept. 14, and again in a four-set match at Fresno State on Sept. 27.

She cracked into the Lobos’ top-10 list for career digs earlier this season and currently has 1,363, which ranks her fourth.

Heading into this week, Lovato has 503 digs for the 2013 season, which ranks second on the single-season top-10 list.

Lovato is majoring in education.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 23
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