Lobo Volleyball on the Mountain West Road
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico volleyball team travels to No. 10 Colorado State and Wyoming this weekend for a pair of Mountain West matches.
The Lobos will look to avenge a five-set loss suffered at home on Sept. 26 to the still unbeaten Rams, and will look to complete the season sweep of the Cowgirls.
"Thursday night is a big match, we're probably looking at five or six thousand people," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "It will be great for our team. We're excited about it -- it's become a great rivalry with them and is something I think both teams look forward to.
"We've got some work to do today and tomorrow. We're going to go up there and do everything we can and leave it all on the line."
Things won't get easier for the Lobos on Saturday. While Wyoming currently sits fifth in the Mountain West standings, the Cowgirls are still a threat on their home court.
"We beat them the first time this season, but Wyoming is one of the toughest places to play in the conference," Nelson said. "We've got to jump right back on on Friday, get a good workout in and get ready for them.
"I think we're in a good place. I liked the way we played last weekend and hopefully we can have another great weekend of play."
LOWDOWN ON THE LOBOS
The Lobos are coming off a 2-0 week in Mountain West action at home, first defeating Boise State, 3-1, on Nov. 7, before sweeping Utah State on Nov. 9. UNM is in a two-way tie (Fresno State) for the No. 2 spot in MW standings with a 20-5 overall and 10-4 MW mark.
New Mexico leads the conference in opponent hitting percentage in overall matches, holding foes to .146 accuracy. The Lobos are No. 3 in the conference and No. 20 in the nation in blocks-per-set for overall matches, with an average of 2.79.
Redshirt junior Chantale Riddle continues to pace the Lobos and the MW in overall and conference-only matches with 4.02 kills-per-set and 4.74 points-per-set. In MW-only matches, she averages 4.06 kills-per-set and 4.71 points-per-set. She is No. 26 in the nation in points-per-set and No. 41 for kills-per-set. Riddle is also UNM’s leader in aces with 15 on the season.
Outside hitters Cassie House and Julia Warren add 2.53 and 2.47 kills-per-set apiece, while senior middle blocker Lexi Ross hits at a team-best .343 clip and averages 2.01 kills-per-set and 1.12 blocks-per-set.
Redshirt sophomore Hannah Johnson handles setting duties for UNM and dishes out 10.92 assists-per-set. She is tied as the league leader in double-doubles in overall matches with 15 and is tied for second in MW only matches with seven. Senior libero Miquella Lovato is second in the league in digs-per-set with an average of 4.66.
Sophomore middle blocker Skye Gullatt is the highest ranked underclassmen in the MW top-10 for blocks at fourth with 1.28 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.
With six regular-season matches remaining, the Lobos could finish with the most wins in the Nelson era and the most wins in over 20 years.
The most wins for the Lobos in a season under Nelson is 22, achieved in 2008. The most wins before that is 23 -- done in 1991 when Laurel Brassey was the head coach.
ABOUT THE RAMS
Colorado State is one of two teams that remain undefeated. The Rams are ranked No. in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll and are 23-0. Missouri is the other team without a mar on its record at 29-0.
CSU earned a 3-1 win at Wyoming on Nov. 5, before sweeping Nevada at home on Nov. 9. The Rams lead the MW in sweeps with 12.
The Lobos were the first team to take Colorado State to five sets in 2013, doing so at home on Sept. 28. New Mexico went down 0-2 in the marathon match as the Rams took the first two sets, 27-25 and 25-18. UNM trailed by as many as five in the third set before charging back and taking the set, 27-25, and handling the Rams, 25-16, in the fourth. New Mexico carried momentum into the deciding set and led 11-8, but the Rams charged back and took the set, 15-13, and match, 3-2.
The Rams lead the Mountain West in hitting percentage (.298), kills (14.55/set) and blocks (2.93/set) and are sixth, 11th and seventh in the nation in those categories, respectively. They are balanced on offense, with five players averaging 2.49 kills-per-set or better. Redshirt junior Marlee Reynolds, an outside hitter, leads the offensive attack with a 3.06 kills-per-set average. Sophomore right-side Adrianna Culbert adds 2.8, and freshman outside Michelle Lawrence averages 2.85.
Redshirt senior middle blocker Samantha Peters leads all MW players and is No. 21 nationally in hitting percentage (.409) and is second in the MW and No. 8 in the nation in blocks with 1.50 per-set.
Redshirt junior Deedra Foss leads the league and is eighth nationally in assists-per-set with 11.82, and sophomore libero Jaime Colaizzi is fifth in MW standings with a 3.87 digs-per-set average.
ABOUT THE COWGIRLS
Wyoming enters the week at No. 5 in the Mountain West standings with a 15-13 overall and 5-9 MW record. The Cowgirls are coming off a 1-1 week, falling in four to then-No. 10 Colorado State on Nov. 5 before sweeping Nevada on Nov. 7 -- both matches were at home.
The Lobos swept Wyoming at home on Sept. 28 by set scores of 25-14, 25-16, 25-14.
Wyoming is second in the league and No. 15 in the nation in blocks-per-set with a 2.82 average. Junior middle blocker Erin Kirby is No. 1 in the nation in the category with 1.75 stuffs-per-set.
Senior middle blocker Reese Plante leads the Cowgirls on offense with a 2.72 kills-per-set average and hits at a .303 clip. Sophomore outside hitter Bridget Shanahan averages 2.59 kills-per-set while Kirby adds 2.47.
Senior Rachel Keyes averages 5.46 assists-per-set while senior libero Becky Stewart leads the conference and is 25th nationally in digs-per-set with 5.13.
OTHER LOBO VOLLEYBALL NOTES
SKIPPER NAMED CAPITAL ONE ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT FIRST TEAM...University of New Mexico volleyball’s Lena Skipper earned Capital One Academic All-District First Team honors for District VII as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America on November 7. With the District honor, the senior is now eligible for Academic All-America, which will be voted on and announced later this month.
Skipper, a native of Melbourne, Australia, and a Liberal Arts major, boasts a 4.05 GPA -- the highest among all Division I honorees and the second-highest among all honorees. Hannah Brickley, a senior biology major from Division III Trinity College, was the only other volleyball honoree to post a GPA above 4.0 -- she has a 4.13.
Skipper is the 10th Lobo volleyball student-athlete in program history to earn regional academic honors and the fourth student-athlete to do so during Nelson’s era, joining Kelly Williamson (First team, 2011 and First team, 2010), Jade Michaelsen (Third team, 2010), and Jeanne Fairchild (Second team, 2008).
It’s the first season Skipper was eligible for nomination as she transferred to UNM last season. As a junior, she earned fall Mountain West Academic All-Conference honors and was named a 2012-13 MW Scholar-Athlete.
She credits her Australian education and support from her family in her ability to successfully balance the demands of a Division I student-athlete.
Skipper is one of four MW volleyball student-athletes to earn Academic All-District honors. Marissa Brand (Fresno State, Sr., psychology major); Ayesha Hein (Air Force, Jr., astronautical engineering major) and Medline Westman (UNLV, Sr., communications) were also honored by Capital One/CoSIDA.
JOHNSON REACHES 1K ASSISTS IN 2013; EYES PROGRAM TOP-10...Heading into the Lobos’ Nov. 9 match with Utah State, Hannah Johnson needed 25 assists to reach 1,000 for the season. Johnson tallied 39 in the three-set match to reach the season milestone. She has 1,016 on the season and needs 53 to surpass to break into UNM’s top-10 single-season record. Sarah Kwasigroch is No. 10 on the list as she recorded 1,068 in 2006. With six matches remaining in the regular season, Johnson could climb as high as No. 6 on the list. That spot is also currently occupied by Kwasigroch who had 1,088 in 2005.
LOVATO CRACKS DIGS SINGLE-SEASON TOP-10 FOR SECOND TIME IN HER CAREER...With her 15 digs against Utah State on Nov. 9, senior libero Miquella Lovato reached Lobo volleyball program’s single-season top-10 list for the second time of her career. She has 433 on the year, which ranks her tied for eighth on the list. Gayle Tripp had a total of 433 in 2006. Lovato had 465 digs last season, which ranks her No. 3 on the program’s single-season list.
She recorded her 1,000th career dig early in the third set against Northern Arizona on Sept. 14, 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 3-2 win over UALR on Sept. 14 and the other in a 3-1 loss at Fresno State on Sept. 27.
She cracked into the Lobos’ top-10 list for career digs earlier this season and currently has 1,293, which ranks her fourth. The career record is 1,630, held by former Lobo great/current volleyball director of operations Allison Buck (2008-11).
Lovato is second in the league for digs-per-set, trailing Wyoming senior Libero Becky Stewart who averages 5.33.
RIDDLE REACHES 1K CAREER KILLS, BECOMES PART OF PROGRAM CAREER TOP-10...Redshirt junior Chantale Riddle recorded her 1,000th career kill in the fourth set of the Lobos 3-1 win at San José State on Oct. 19. The Roswell, N.M., native needed 17 entering the match to reach the 1K mark and tallied a match high 20. Riddle is the 11th Lobo in program history to reach the milestone and the first since 2010 when Lisa Meter recorded her career 1,000th.
Riddle recorded 20 kills against UNLV on Oct. 31 to break into the top-10 in program history in career kills. On Nov. 9 she took over the No. 9 spot from Terri Nielson (1,074; 1980-83) as she currently has 1,088.
Anna Reines (1,089; 2001-03) and Amber Smith (1,122; 1996-99) are No. 8 and 7 on the list and it’s likely Riddle could surpass them yet this season.
The most kills recorded in a career by a Lobo volleyball player is 1,579, done by Tania Gooley (1991-94).
RIDDLE PART OF CAREER POINTS HISTORY...Riddle surpassed the milestone of 1,000 points earlier this season and took over the No. 10 spot for career points in UNM program history when she recorded 14.0 on Oct. 26 in the Lobos’ 3-0 win over Nevada. The redshirt junior is at 1,279.0 and counting.
She bumped Nao Ikeda from the No. 9 spot and looks to surpass Kim Hicks who is No. 8 (1335.0; 1980-81, ‘83) and Lisa Meeter at No. 7 (1,352.0; 2007-10).
RIDDLE RANKED IN CAREER ATTEMPTS, BLOCK ASSISTS AND TOTAL BLOCKS...Riddle is No. 5 in career attempts with 2,990, ranks seventh in block assists with 250 and is No. 19 in total blocks with 287.
ROSS IN CAREER TOP-10 FOR BLOCK ASSISTS; CLOSE FOR TOTAL BLOCKS...Senior Lexi Ross is No. 8 in career block assists with 246 and counting. She could move up as high as No. 3 or 4 before the season ends.
In total blocks, Ross needs nine to crack into the Lobo volleyball top-10 for career blocks. Spot No. 10 on the list is occupied by Chantale Riddle who has 287 and counting (2011-present).