Gutsy Lobos Take Down Wyoming, 3-1
Sept. 22, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Volleyball (14-2, 2-0 MW)- Mountain West Conference - Johnson Center
Saturday: Lobos def. Wyoming, 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-19)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico volleyball team improved to 14-2 overall and 2-0 in Mountain West play with a 3-1 win (23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-19) over Wyoming on Saturday night in front of 1,420 fans in the Johnson Center. The Cowgirls drop to 11-4 overall, and 0-1 in conference play.
New Mexico is proving to be a gutsy team as the Lobos continue to find ways to win tough matches. UNM is working with a roster of just 10 players, cut down due to three season-ending injuries. The Lobos came back from an 0-2 deficit on Thursday night to beat MW preseason No. 1 Colorado State in five sets and after dropping the first set of Saturday's match against Wyoming, the Lobos rallied to win the next three. The Lobos are 5-1 in matches in which they've dropped the first game and are 4-1 in five-set matches.
Head coach Jeff Nelson's instructions to his Lobos have been simple: play tough.
"That's what we have been preaching," he said. "We just have to be tough. We got outhit in the first game and just barely outhit them in games two and three, but we dug a lot more balls. We made a few too many mistakes in that first game, but then we cleaned it up and we played good volleyball."
Nelson acknowledges the Lobos' team chemistry as a factor in their success and tough play.
"We're a young team with a great senior leader (Jordan Russell)," he said. "Even when they get on each other a little bit and have disagreements, we're good right after that. They're being very mature and handling things really well."
Much like Thursday night's match, the Lobos caused problems for their opponent from behind the serving line. New Mexico had 10 ace serves and only four errors, while the Cowgirls had just three aces and eight misses.
"All I told her was to get it on their arms and she gave them a change up," Nelson said of Newman's back-to-back points. "She served a soft one that just flew off the girl's arms and then she came back with a really tough serve on the next one. When Newman goes back to serve, we know we're going to get some points because she really serves a rocket."
Redshirt sophomore Chantale Riddle led all players with 18 kills, nine digs and three blocks. Junior Lexi Ross hit an exceptional .476, finishing with 13 kills on 21 attempts and committing just three attack errors. Ross added three digs and five blocks. Lena Skipper was the third Lobo to record double-digits in kills with 10. The junior outside hitter added ten digs.
Jodi Purdy led the Cowgirls with 16 kills, 10 digs and four blocks.
The Lobos hit the road for three matches next week. New Mexico's first stop is a 7 p.m. MT meeting with CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday, Sept. 26 followed by a match against MW newcomer Fresno State at 8 p.m. MT on Thursday, Sept. 27. UNM closes out the week with a match at UNLV on Saturday, Sept. 29. That match will begin at 8 p.m. MT.
The Lobos' next home match will be held at The Pit at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4 against Boise State.
Lobos 3, Wyoming 1
New Mexico led the entire first set -- building as much as a five-point lead -- until a kill from Jodi Purdy late in the game gave Wyoming a 23-22 advantage. A kill from Reese Plante followed to give the Cowgirls set point. Chantale Riddle kept it close with a kill to move the Lobos to within one, but the first game ended with a kill from Purdy, 25-23 Cowgirls. Purdy led all hitters with seven kills in game one. Wyoming also had six blocks to just two by New Mexico.
The Cowgirls carried their momentum to set two and took a 6-4 lead. A kill from Lexi Ross snapped the Lobos into action and they took off on a 6-0 run, giving the home team a four-point lead. Strong net play from freshmen Skye Gullatt and Alijah Gunsaulus allowed the Lobos to build off their advantage. Gullatt had three kills and sent plenty of balls back over to Wyoming on block touches while Gunsaulus had five kills in the game. UNM's lead swelled to 20-13 and Wyoming called for a breather. A few plays later, a kill from Gunsaulus made it 24-16 New Mexico. A Reese Plante kill kept the Cowgirls alive for one more point, but the set ended, 25-17, as an off-speed attempt by the Cowgirls was short and in the net. The Cowgirls had 10 kills in game two to 15 by UNM.
Back-to-back aces by Miquella Lovato gave UNM a 6-2 lead to start the third set. A kill from Ross settled a long volley to move the Lobos' lead to 9-4. An ace serve from Lovato -- her third of the game -- pushed New Meixco's advantage to 15-9 and Wyoming called a timeout. An attack error by the Cowgirls put the score at 17-10 and the visitors called for their second timeout of the game. A few plays later, Wyoming put up four unanswered points to come within four points, 20-16. A kill from Gullatt snapped the run, and New Mexico claimed the game moments later off a kill from Skipper, 25-18.
Three Lobos had four kills in the third set: Riddle, Skipper and Ross and New Mexico outhit the Cowgirls, .220 to .190.
The teams traded points to start the fourth game before the Lobos opened up a 4-0 run thanks to kills and blocks from Ross and Johnson to move the mark to 9-5 New Mexico. UNM led by as many as five points, 13-8, but the Cowgirls kept things interesting and cut the lead to one point, 15-14. Back-to-back kills from Skipper and Ross pushed the Lobos' lead back to three points, 17-14. A solo block by Erin Kirby sparked a 3-0 run by Wyoming to tie the game at 17-all. A kill from Johnson prompted an 8-2 Lobo run to close the game -- including consecutive ace serves from Newman.