Lobos Take Tourney with 3-2 Win Over UCSB
Lobo Volleyball (10-1, 0-0 MW) - Sheraton Airport/Comcast Lobo Invitational -- Johnson Center, Sept. 7-8 -- Tournament Champions
Friday, Sept. 7: Lobos def. Georgia Southern, 3-2 (23-25, 25-15, 32-33, 22-25,15-7)
SHERATON AIRPORT/COMCAST LOBO INVITATIONAL WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Friday, Sept. 7
Saturday, Sept. 8
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico volleyball team won its ninth-consecutive match and third-straight tournament of the season, improving to 10-1 overall with a hard-fought 3-2 (25-16, 25-21, 22-25, 18-25, 15-9) win over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night in the final match of the Sheraton Airport/Comcast Lobo Invitational. It is the third tournament title for the Lobos in the preseason.
A record of 10-1 is the program's best start since 1989. That season, UNM opened 12-1, dropping to 13-2 after its 15th match.
The Lobos looked sharp in the first two sets (25-16, 25-21) with steady passing and strong net play. In set one, UNM had 13 kills to just nine by the Gauchos and hit with .265 accuracy. The Lobos controlled the net defensively in the second set, recording five blocks while UCSB didn't manage any and at the half-match break, the Lobos had a 16-2 blocking advantage.
Games three and four were an entirely different story and went to the Gauchos, 22-25 and 18-25, respectively. The Lobos struggled with the skills they had excelled at in the first half of the match. UCSB's outside ace junior Leah Sully came alive, recording ten kills in the third set and four in the fourth. She finished with a match-high 26. The Gauchos controlled the net in both sets three and four, recording an 18-8 kill advantage in the third and a 5-0 edge in blocks in the fourth.
New Mexico went back to the basics in the fifth, focusing more on each pass, each attack and each block. It paid off as the Lobos took the decisive set, 15-8.
"We looked great in the first two games," Nelson said. "We came out too casual in the third and fourth games and we waited for UC Santa Barbara to lose and against a program with a history like theirs -- they're not going to go away. We had to keep reminding our team that and in set five, we reminded ourselves of the game plan that was on the board and we got after it.
"I give UC Santa Barbara a lot of credit for the way they fought back. Leah Sully flat out lit it up in games three and four," he said.
Sophomore Chantale Riddle led UNM with a double-double, 19 kills and 11 digs. Riddle also had a career-high eight blocks.
All three were named to the All-tournament team with Riddle earning MVP honors.
New Mexico heads to Norman, Okla., Sept. 14-15 for the Oklahoma Invitational. The Lobos face Arkansas-Little Rock at 4 p.m. MT on Friday, Sept. 14. New Mexico has two matches on Saturday, Sept. 15, facing SMU at 9 a.m. MT and host Oklahoma at 6 p.m. MT.
SHERATON AIRPORT/COMCAST LOBO INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Senior OH Ariel Usher, Portland