Nov. 19, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Volleyball - on the Mountain West road
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The Lobos volleyball team will play its final two matches of the regular season on the road, traveling to Wyoming on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and to Colorado State on Friday, Nov. 23. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. MT.
The Lobos went 1-1 in MW play at home last week, sweeping Nevada on Nov. 15 before being swept by league leading San Diego State on Nov. 17. New Mexico is 20-11 overall and 7-7 in league play. UNM is in a three-way tie (with Fresno State and Boise State) for fourth in the conference standings. The Aztecs and Colorado State both carry 12-3 records and are tied for first in the MW.
New Mexico's first stop on its final road trip of the season is at Wyoming. The Cowgirls carry a 20-11 overall record and a 7-8 MW mark. Like the Lobos, Wyoming split matches last week, losing at Boise State, 3-1, before sweeping Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Cowgirls lead the MW and are No. 2 in the nation in blocks-per-set with a 3.23 average. They're also second in conference matches for opponent hitting percentage (.156) and third in conference matches for digs (14.84).
Wyoming has the advantage in the all-time series, 31-37, but it was the Lobos who took the match the first time the teams met this season. UNM topped the Cowgirls, 3-1, in Albuquerque on Sept. 22 (23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-19). Chantale Riddle led all players with 18 kills, nine digs and three blocks. Lexi Ross hit .476 on the match, tallying 13 kills. Wyoming was led by senior outside hitter Jodi Purdy who had 16 kills, 10 digs and four blocks.
Purdy leads the Cowgirls (4.22 points, 3.46 kills, .228 pct., 2.73 digs, .89 blocks) while junior Calli Miller (2.21 kills, .190 pct., 1.39 digs) and senior libero Becky Stewart (4.65 digs) are significant contributors. Setters Rachel Keyes and Whitney Smith average 5.93 and 4.12 assists, respectively.
Colorado State (20-7, 12-3 MW) is back to receiving votes in the AVCA Top-25 poll as they're on a seven-match winning streak, including winning three matches on the road last week. CSU beat non-conference opponent Northern Colorado, 3-1, before sweeping both Air Force and Boise State. Senior Megan Plourde led the Rams last week and was named Mountain West Player of the Week, averaging 4.40 points, 3.60 kills, 1.50 blocks and .40 digs per set while hitting at a .467 clip. Plourde is ninth nationwide in blocks-per-set with an average of 1.54.
The Rams hold a hefty advantage in the all-time series, 23-44, but when they came to Albuquerque on Sept. 20 they were shocked and rocked by the Lobos, 3-2 (10-25, 18-25, 25-11, 25-20, 15-9).
New Mexico outblocked and outdug the Rams, 49-44 and 72-67 in this year's first encounter. Freshman Alijah Gunsaulus led all players with 14 kills and 13 digs, Riddle had 11 kills and Lena Skipper had eight kills and 13 digs. Plourde led CSU with 13 kills and 11 block assists.
Senior outside hitter Dana Cranston leads the Rams (3.63 kills, .244 pct., 2.03 digs, .73 blocks) while Plourde (2.93 kills, .366 pct., 1.54 blocks) and senior Brieon Paige (2.62 kills, .368 pct., .99 blocks) make significant contributions. Redshirt sophomore Deedra Foss averages 10.79 assists and 2.25 digs per set, and senior libero Izzy Gualia averages 4.28 digs per set.
New Mexico Volleyball Notes
Riddle the Record Breaker... With 33 kills in two matches last week, redshirt sophomore Chantale Riddle's season total moved to 481, enough for her to surpass the previous Mountain West record for most kills in a single season by a sophomore, which was 472 (set by BYU's Nina Puikkonen in 1999). Riddle also moved up in Lobo volleyball program history for single-season kills, now ranking No. 3. The right-side hitter also had 37.5 points last week to move her season point total to 562.5, which ranks her second in Lobo history for single-season points. Riddle needs three more points to surpass current record holder, Pauline Manser, a two-time All-American who had 565.0 points in 1991.
Lovato digs deep... -Miquella Lovato rejoined the Lobos' lineup last week after missing three matches due to a concussion sustained on Nov. 1. The junior libero had an excellent match against Nevada, tallying 17 digs in three sets. Lovato recorded 14 digs in the first two sets of UNM's match with San Diego State on Saturday before she had to leave the match due to battling food poisoning. She averaged 6.20 digs in five sets played last week. Her season total increased to 431, moving her to No. 8 in program history for most digs in a single-season.
20th Win of 2012... For the fourth time since his arrival in 2007, head coach Jeff Nelson has led the Lobos to a 20 wins in a season. His other 20-plus win campaigns were 2008, 2009 and 2010. It's the 11th time the Lobo volleyball program has recorded a season with 20 or more wins. The most wins recorded by a UNM volleyball team was 28 (11 losses) under the direction of Laurel Brassey in 1983.
Three Of New Mexico's Best Commit to Lobos... Head coach Jeff Nelson, along with assistants Lisa Beauchene and Ben Wallis, announced the signing of three exceptional and home-grown student-athletes to the Lobo volleyball program on Nov. 14. Cassie House (Cleveland HS), Devanne Sours (Tatum HS) and Julia Warren (La Cueva HS), all of New Mexico, will join UNM for the 2013-14 season.
"This is the best recruiting class we've had here and probably the best recruiting class to come out of the state of New Mexico," Nelson said. "They are the three premiere high school volleyball players in the state this year and all three of them are ranked among the top 200 recruits in country, which is incredible."
House and Warren competed against each other in the 5A state championship match on Nov. 17 with House and Cleveland sweeping Warren and La Cueva. Sours helped Tatum secure its fourth-consecutive state title in 1A action.
Double Up... Chantale Riddle is tied (with Wyoming's Purdy and Boise State's Gammell) for first in the MW for season double-doubles with 14. Jordan Russell has six and Lena Skipper and Alijah Gunsaulus each have five double-doubles while Hannah Johnson has one.
Block Hungry... Freshman Skye Gullatt is a defensive force at the net for the Lobos, leading the team and ranking No. 5 among all conference players in blocks-per-set in conference matches. In 53 sets of MW volleyball played, Gullatt has eight solo blocks and 54 block assists for 62 total (1.17/set). Her 11 total blocks in the Lobos' 2-3 loss to Fresno State on Oct. 27 was the most any player in the MW has had in a conference match that went to five games.