Colorado Springs, Colo. --- After a season that saw the University of New Mexico pick up its highest-win total since joining the Mountain West, it’s only fitting that UNM garnered a record All-Conference haul. Four Lobos; Chantale Riddle, Julia Warren, Hannah Johnson and Miquela Lovato all earned All-Mountain West honors. In addition, Julia Warren was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year.
The four Lobos honored tied New Mexico with regular season champion Colorado State for the most on the squad. New Mexico finished 24-7 and in second place in the Mountain West.
In Warren, the Lobos have their second Mountain West Freshman of the Year, and their first since Lisa Meeter earned the honor in 2007. The four Lobos earning All-Mountain West equals the program record set in 2010 when Taylor Hadfield, Allison Buck, Jade Michaelsen, and Lisa Meeter all earned the nod.
The four honorees represent four different classes, with Lovato a senior, Riddle a junior, Johnson a sophomore and Warren a freshmen. For Riddle and Lovato, it marks back-to-back years on the all-conference team, and Riddle was a unanimous selection.
Jeff Nelson, whose team missed out on an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament despite a 24-7 record, felt the honors validated a great season for his young squad. “I am so proud of my entire team for the great season they put together and for being tough at the end of the year with some injuries and still winning and coming up second in the Mountain West. The four players honored by the MWC puts an exclamation mark on a great year!”
Lovato, a 5-2 libero from Pojoaque finished second in the Mountain West with 537 digs, a total that puts her second on the UNM single-season list. Her 14 aces were third on the team, and her 105 assists were second. For her career, Lovato finished with 1,397 digs, putting her fourth on the career UNM list.
“Miquella was honored for the second year in a row by the coaches and I am so happy for her as she really stepped up into a leadership role this season,” said Nelson, adding “she also played through a nasty back injury and gave the team everything she had. No one picks up opponents hits like Miquella!”
There was one unsolvable riddle in the Mountain West, and that was UNM’s Chantale Riddle. The lone unanimous pick for the Lobos, she once again led the team in kills (468) and kills per game (4.11). Riddle easily blew past the 1,000 kill mark and currently stands at 1,182, which is fifth all-time. She will enter the 2014 season just 397 away from Tania Gooley’s school record of 1,579 kills, set from 1991-94. Riddle’s 468 kills and 4.77 points per set easily led the Mountain West.
Nelson had nothing but praise for the Roswell native who will most likely end her career as one of the most decorated Lobos in school history. “Chantale was also honored for the second year and really was one of the premier players in the league this season. She has developed into a a great all-around player. This was the second year in a row she led the MW in kills and points scored. The best part for Lobo fans is that we have another season with Chantale’s exciting play”
The lone non-native New Mexican for UNM on the all-conference team was sophomore setter Hannah Johnson, who had a breakout season in her first as UNM’s No. 1 setter. After recording 646 assists last year in split duty with Jordan Russell, Johnson recorded 1,220 assists, good for fourth in the conference (and third all-time on the UNM single-season list), and she added 324 digs, which was 14th in the league. She was also fourth in blocks with 75 and she led the conference in double-doubles.
Johnson being honored as just a sophomore is something that Coach Nelson knows sets the stage for the near future of Lobo volleyball. “Hannah stepped into the starting setter role this season and really grew all year long. Her improvement since last year has been amazing.”
Nelson added, “I am thrilled for her and our team to have such a young setter be honored by the conference coaches. Hannah is a truly complete setter; she digs, blocks, and runs the show for our team.”
The fourth honoree in a hometown product from Albuquerque’s La Cueva High School, who was honored as both All-Conference and Freshman of the Year. Warren, who missed the final eight games with a leg injury, still showed enough to garner Freshman of the Year honors. Warren’s 222 kills were tied for second on the team despite missing eight games, and her 2.47 kills per game was second on the team. Warren also excelled defensively as her 231 digs were fourth on the team, and she would have finished higher if not for the injury.
While stats can tell the story, it’s her tenacity that he feels pushes her into that next level. “I am so happy for Julia being named Freshman of Year! She is a bulldog on the court, a true fighter that brought a great attitude and spirit to our program this season. Julia's game is so complete, she passed extremely well for us and actually led the MW for outside hitters in hitting percentage this season, as a freshman. She is the first freshman we have ever had named to the All-MW Team.”
|2013 MOUNTAIN WEST WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM|
|Adrianna Culbert||Colorado State||So.||OPP||Delton, Mich.|
|Samantha Peters||Colorado State||Sr.||MB||Englewood, Colo.|
|Kelsey Snider||Colorado State||Jr.||MB||Arvada, Colo.|
|Marissa Brand||Fresno State||Sr.||OH||Cypress, Calif.|
|Korrin Wild||Fresno State||Sr.||OH||Kingsburg, Calif.|
|Hannah Johnson||New Mexico||So.||S||Longview, Wash.|
|Miquella Lovato^||New Mexico||Sr.||L||Pojoaque, N.M.|
|Chantale Riddle^||New Mexico||Jr.||RS||Roswell, N.M.|
|Julia Warren||New Mexico||Fr.||OH||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|Raegan Shelton#^||San Diego State||Sr.||OH||Amarillo, Texas|
|Hanah Blume||San José State||Sr.||OH||Columbia, Calif.|
|Sekola Falemaka||UNLV||Sr.||OH||Grantsville, Utah|
|Elle Brainard||Utah State||So.||OPP||Saratoga Springs, Utah|
|Erin Kirby#^||Wyoming||Jr.||MB||Evanston, Wyo.|
|Colorado State||Jr.||S||McKenna, Wash.|
Player of the Year: Samantha Peters, Sr., MB, Colorado State
Freshman of the Year: Julia Warren, Fr., OH, New Mexico
Newcomer of the Year: Holly Franks, Sr.-TR, RS, Fresno State
Coach of the Year: Tom Hilbert, Colorado State
# = 2011 honoree
^ = 2012 honoree