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Aug. 7, 2013

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Fifteen University of New Mexico volleyball student-athletes reported on Tuesday afternoon for team meetings before holding the first practice of the 2013 season on Wednesday morning in the Johnson Center on main campus.

The Lobos, who will have two practice sessions almost every day for the next couple of weeks, reported from as close as a few miles from campus to as far away as Norway and Australia.

Seventh-year head coach Jeff Nelson said Wednesday morning's session was spent getting as many touches on the ball as possible.

"It was exciting to see -- it was good at times and it was frightening at times because we have six freshmen, but overall, there were a lot of really good things," Nelson said. "We saw a lot of good things from each of our newcomers this morning and

Devanne Sours, Julia Warren, Danielle Ortiz, Lise Rugland, Cassie House and Maddie Mayfield all had their first practice as a Lobo.

"It was exhilarating," House said of officially donning Cherry and Silver.

Warren, who knew she wanted to be a Lobo all through high school, echoed House.

"I can't even believe I'm here already and I'm very excited to see where I can help this team," Warren said.

Seven letterwinners, including six starters, from last year's squad will help guide the incoming class. Two redshirts -- Elsa Krieg (torn ACL) and Sara Stelzer (concussion) -- are also healthy and ready to contribute. Redshirt freshman Ashley Kelsey will miss her second season due to another torn ACL suffered during spring training.

Senior Miquella Lovato felt the level of competitiveness go up a few notches with the blend of returners and newcomers. The three-year starter and 2012 Mountain West Designated Libero of the Year says the team will use the weeks leading up to the first match of the season to focus on getting familiar with each other.

"Every one of us was the best player on our high school team so now we need to focus on putting our talents together and learn how to play as a complete team," Lovato said.

New Mexico opens against UMKC at 12 p.m. MT on Friday, Aug. 30 at the University of Arkansas Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. The Lobos face the Razorbacks at 6 p.m., that evening and play Northwestern State on Saturday, Aug. 31 to round out opening weekend.

The Lobos' home opening weekend, Sept. 6-7, will draw UC Riverside, Towson and Idaho State for the Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic.

Returners

No.NameHeightPositionYearExperienceHometown/Last SchoolNotes from last season
2 Hannah Johnson 5-11 S RS So. 1VL Longview, Wash./R.A. Long HS Led the Lobos with 646 assists (5.09/set)
3 Chantale Riddle 6-0 RS RS Jr. 2VL Roswell, N.M. Broke multiple single-season school records land earned All-America honorable mention
4 Lena Skipper 5-10 OH Sr. 1VL Melbourne, Australia/Swinburne University Second on the team in kills with 233
6 Lexi Ross 6-2 MB Sr. 3VL Lake Oswego, Ore./Lakeridge HS Led the team and was seventh in the MW in ace serves with 30
8 Ashley Kelsey 6-0 OH RS Fr. RS Ewa Beach, Hawaii/James Campbell HS Retore her ACL and looks to rehab and return to the lineup in 2014
16 Elsa Krieg 6-2 MB RS So. 1VL Granby, Colo./Middle Park HS Played in 11 matches before tearing her knee in practice...was leading the team and was in MW top-5 for attack pct. with .399
17 Skye Gullatt 5-11 MB So. 1VL Aurora, Colo./Smoky Hill HS Ranked fifth in MW for blocks in league matches (the only freshman ranked in the top-10)
20 Sara Stelzer 5-7 DS RS Fr. RS Albuquerque, N.M./Hope Christian Redshirted due to a concussion
21 Miquella Lovato 5-2 L Sr. 3VL Pojoaque, N.M./Pojoaque HS MW Designated Libero

Newcomers

No.NameHeightPositionYearExperienceHometown/Last SchoolNotes from HS Career
1 Devanne Sours 6-2 OH Fr. HS Tatum, N.M./Tatum HS Four-time 1A Player of the Year, four-time state champ
5 Julia Warren 6-1 OH Fr. HS Albuquerque, N.M./La Cueva HS Two-time All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year
7 Danielle Ortiz 5-7 DS Fr. HS Los Alamos, N.M./Los Alamos HS District Player of the Year, three-time All-District and two-time All-State
11 Lise Rugland 5-9 S Fr. HS Tananger, Norway/ToppVolley Norway Three years of Norwegian national team experience
12 Cassie House 6-2 OH/MB Fr. HS Rio Rancho, N.M./Cleveland HS Four-time All-District, three-time All-State and '12 U.S. Junior National Training Team
18 Maddie Mayfield 5-4 DS Fr. HS Albuquerque, N.M./La Cueva HS Three-time All-District, three-time All-Metro and All-State as a senior

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