Stevens: Nelson's Lobos Eye Seattle -- Then Texas
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/28/2014

New Mexico Lobos Volleyball – 2014 Lobo Classic

When/Where: Friday, Saturday (Aug. 29-30) – Johnson Center

Friday: 10:30 a.m., Texas vs. UTEP; 1 p.m., Lobos vs. Seattle; 5 p.m., UTEP vs. Seattle; 7:30 p.m., Lobos vs. Texas.

Promotions: The Texas match Friday night will be a WHITEOUT. Free t-shirts will be given to the first 600 fans that arrive. Present your UTEP football ticket at the Texas match and UTEP match Saturday and receive a discounted $3 ticket price. 

Saturday: 1 p.m., Lobos vs. UTEP; 3:30 p.m., Texas vs. Seattle.

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The eyes of Jeff Nelson Lobos aren’t yet on Texas.  Oh, they will be.  You don’t bring the No. 2 team in the nation into Johnson Center and not be aware of all those All-Americans coming your way.

The Texas Longhorns are a T-rex of college volleyball.  If you aren’t ready, they can gobble you up.  Or stomp you down.

They also are royalty of the nets.  They were national champions in 2012 and Final Four this past season.  They were runners-up in 2009 and in 1988 did not lose an NCAA match in winning that year’s national crown.

The Longhorns have made 30 NCAA Tournament appearances and are undefeated in NCAA First Round matches.  They enter the 2014 season thinking they are good enough to win the 2014 national title – and they are.

Nelson agrees.  The Lobo coach said most observers of college volleyball think Texas should be the preseason favorite to wear the 2014 crown.

So what do you think Longhorns are planning to do to Lobos in Johnson Center?

Actually, the Lobos are planning to do the same thing to the Longhorns – beat ‘em.  But Nelson’s Lobos also know there is a salty Seattle University team wedged in between now and New Mexico’s Friday night battle with the ‘Horns of Austin.

And Seattle is coming to Albuquerque to beat Lobos.

Obviously, the Lobos first need to take care of business with Seattle and the Lobos should be focused for that match for several reasons.

1. They don’t want to lose in Johnson Center in front of Lobo fans.

2. They don’t want to start the season 0-1 because Texas could make that an 0-2 start.

3. They need to be playing well and with confidence heading toward No. 2 Texas.

4. And Jeff Nelson isn’t too happy when his Lobos lose a match.

“We are excited and ready to play Texas, but I think first we really need to focus on Seattle,” said Lobo sophomore Julia Warren. “Everyone is talking about the Texas match, but we start with Seattle which is a really good team.”

Said junior Skye Gullatt:  “Seattle is a quality team.  We are focusing on our side of the court and doing what we do best which is what we need to do in order to win games.   We have to go out there and play ball like we know how, but we also need to remember that you can’t look past anybody.”

Nelson said the excitement of an opener should help his Lobos focus on the match with Seattle.

“We are talking a lot about Texas, but Seattle is a really good team,” said Nelson.  “They are big. They are physical. We have to work really hard to keep our players focused on that match.”

Seattle returns nine letterwinners and it is picked to finish second in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference race behind New Mexico State.  The Redhawks return their top two hitters in Iris Ivanis (307 kills in 2012) and 6-foot-5 Martina Samandan, who averaged 3.25 kills per set last year.

Ivanis was the WAC Freshman of the Year in 2013 and junior middle blocker Lauren Bakker was voted the 2014 WAC Preseason Player of the Year.

It won’t be difficult to get the Lobos focused on Texas.

 Hey, it’s Texas.

“There are four kids starting on that team, who have been All-Americans in different years,” said Nelson.

 “We are going to have our hands full, but it’s a great test and it’s what we need to do in order to get ready for the rest of the season.”

The Longhorns return nine letterwinners off 2013’s 27-3 team that reached the NCAA semis.  They return four AVCA All-Americans including 6-foot-3 senior Haley Eckerman, a three-time All-American, a  two-time Big 12 Player of the Year and Volleyball Magazine’s 2013 National Player of the Year. 

Simply put: the Longhorns are loaded.

Nelson likes to test his Lobos against the top teams in college volleyball.  The Lobos also have gone into net wars against Stanford and Nebraska.   “I think we are the most prepared we have ever been, but they are a great team,” Nelson said of the Longhorns.

“This team (Lobos) has depth. It’s fast. We are extremely physical.  Our goal is to build towards the conference championship and we are in the best place we’ve been for that.”

New Mexico Lobos 2014 Volleyball Roster

No. Sort by Number
Name Sort by Name
Pos. Sort by Position
Ht. Sort by Height
Yr. Sort by Eligibility Year
Exp. Sort by Years Experience
Hometown (Prev School)
1   Devanne Sours OH 6-2 So. 1L Tatum, N.M. (Tatum HS)
2   Hannah Johnson S 5-11 RJr. 2L Longview, Wash. (R.A. Long HS)
3   Chantale Riddle RS 6-0 RSr. 3L Roswell, N.M. (Roswell HS)
4   Samantha Sofka OH 5-8 Fr. HS Farmington, N.M. (Piedra Vista HS)
5   Julia Warren OH 6-1 So. 1L Albuquerque, N.M. (La Cueva HS)
7   Victoria Spragg MB 6-5 Fr. HS Belen, N.M. (Belen HS)
8   Ashley Kelsey OH 6-0 RFr. RS Ewa Beach, Hawai'i (James Campbell HS)
9   Simone Henderson MB 6-0 Jr. TR Palm Springs, Calif. (Grossmont College) (La Quinta HS)
10   Taylor Cross DS 5-7 Fr. HS Colorado Springs, Colo. (Pine Creek HS )
11   Lise Rugland S 5-9 So. 1L Tananger, Norway (Sauda Vidergaende Skole, dept. ToppVolley Norway)
12   Cassie House OH/MB 6-2 So. 1L Rio Rancho, N.M. (Cleveland HS)
13   Keaton Alley S 5-10 Fr. HS Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. (Palos Verdes HS)
14   Stephanie Chavez DS 5-4 Fr. HS Bedford, Texas (Nolan Catholic HS)
16   Elsa Krieg MB 6-2 RJr. 2L Granby, Colo. (Middle Park HS)
17   Skye Gullatt MB 5-11 Jr. 2L Denver, Colo. (Smoky Hill HS)
18   Maddie Mayfield DS 5-4 So. 1L Albuquerque, N.M. (La Cueva HS)
21   Mariessa Carrasco MB 6-0 Fr. HS El Paso, Texas (Chapin HS)
Saturday, August 22
7:00 PM - 
vs. Alumnae (Exhibition)
Friday, August 28
8:00 AM - 
at Belmont
3:00 PM - 
at Albany
Saturday, August 29
5:00 PM - 
at Ball State