Wednesday: Lobos def. Air Force, 3-0
Saturday: Lobos at Nevada, 8 p.m. MT/7 p.m. PT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Touting shiny new turquoise uniforms, the University of New Mexico looked brilliant on the court with a sweep (25-18, 25-22, 25-15) of Air Force in Mountain West volleyball action on Wednesday night in the Johnson Center.
The Lobos improve to 21-7 overall and 11-6 in MW matches. The Falcons drop to 6-22 overall and 3-13 in MW contests.
New Mexico travels to Nevada this Saturday for an 8 p.m. MT match with the Wolf Pack. Nevada enters the week No. 11 in MW standings with a 3-25 overall and 1-15 MW record. The Wolf Pack is coming off a 1-1 record in conference matches at home. Nevada defeated MW preseason favorite San Diego State in five sets (22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 20-25, 15-6) on Nov. 14 before being swept by UNLV on Nov. 16.
The Lobos swept Nevada at home on Oct. 26.
Head coach Jeff Nelson was pleased with the way his team responded Wednesay night against the Falcons after having a tough time on the road last weekend.
"We had a couple of days to prepare for this and we had two really good practices on Monday and Tuesday," Nelson said. "It felt like we were in a really good place tonight; much better than on Saturday when we were still processing the injuries and just sort of taping what we could together. We knew exactly what we were going to do tonight down to our substitutions. Everybody was more comfortable."
At 21 wins and with three regular-season matches left, the 2013 Lobos have the chance to record the most victories of Nelson's tenure at UNM. The Lobos of 2008 -- Nelson's second season -- reached 22.
Should the Lobos surpass that number, it'll tie the most wins in a season for UNM volleyball in 22 seasons. The 1991 squad, coached by Laurel Brassey, had 23 wins. The most wins in a season for the program is 28 done in 1983 -- also a Brassey-mentored bunch.
Redshirt junior Chantale Riddle led all players on Wednesday night with 15 kills -- seven of which came in the second set. She hit .419 on the match (2 errors on 31 swings).
Johnson hit 500 (6-1-10) and had 33 set assists.
Senior Miquella Lovato tallied 24 digs, averaging eight per set.
Lena Skipper was steady at the service line, on defense and on serve receive all match. The senior tallied eight digs and served a match-high 20 times.
"We know what we can do and we know what we're capable of and we just had to go out and do it," Skipper said. "We had to do a lot of tooling and we had to listen to our back row when we were in the front. Chantale tooled, tooled, tooled all night. I was really proud of her."
Johnson said the Lobos focused on taking care of business on their side of the net.
"We had two new outsides and Lena and Devanne definitely stepped up tonight," Johnson said. "We had the same flow as if Cassie and Julia were in, which was nice. The middles, too, stepped up their game, and Chantale was as good as she always is."
The Lobos hit .257 in the match (43k-14e-113ta) and held Air Force to .117 (34-20-120).
The Lobos are home next week Tuesday (Fresno State, 6 p.m. MT) and Wednesday (San Jose State, 7 p.m. MT). Wednesday's match is the final match of the regular season and the Lobos will honor seniors Lexi Ross, Miquella Lovato and Lena Skipper.
Set One - Lobos 25, Air Force 18</>
The Falcons and the Lobos played close in the opening set, with UNM keeping a two or three-point cushion most of the way.
New Mexico pulled ahead, 22-16, off a 4-0 run featuring kills from Riddle and Ross and a pair of errors by the Falcons.
The Lobos closed out the set on a kill by Johnson followed by a kill from Sours.
New Mexico hit .278 in set one and were led by Gullatt, who had three kills. UNM got two kills apiece from Sours, Johnson, Riddle, Skipper and Ross.
Lovato anchored the Lobo defense with 10 digs.
Set Two - Lobos 25, Air Force 22
The teams went point-for-point in set two, with a Riddle kill giving the Lobos a one-point advantage, 15-14, at the media timeout. A ball-handling error followed by a Lexi Ross kill moved the Lobos to 17-14, their largest lead of the set.
The Flacons worked their way back to a 20-20 tie and again, the teams traded points up to 22 and then a kill by Riddle followed by a shot down the line from Skipper gave the Lobos set point. A long attack by the Falcons gave the Lobos the point they needed to go up 2-0 in the match.
Riddle had seven kills in set two while Skipper and Sours added three apiece.
Set Three - Lobos 25, Air Force 15
The Lobos opened 6-0 in set three thanks to tough serving by Skipper and kills from Ross and Johnson.
A few plays later, UNM put together a 10-2 run, pushing the score to 17-6, and Air Force wasn't able to recover.
New Mexico hit .213 in the set, recording 13 kills and committing four errors on 39 swings. Air Force was plagued by miscues at the net and hit just .043 in the final set.