Volleyball: Lobos Hit the Road to Start Season
• Week One • New Mexico at Green Mill Restaurant Classic Hosted by: Wichita State University
Fri., Aug. 30 vs. Miami - 9 a.m. vs. Stephen F. Austin - 2 p.m.
Sat. Aug. 31 vs. Wichita State - 12 noon vs. Georgia - 5 p.m.
Update - The University of New Mexico volleyball team begins its 28th season of competition on the road at the Green Mill Restaurant Classic hosted by Wichita State University this weekend, Aug. 30-31.
UNM Tournament Schedule - The Lobos will play the University of Miami on Fri. Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. and Stephen F. Austin at 2 p.m. to start their season. On Sat., Aug. 31, UNM will play host Wichita State at 12 noon followed by a 5 p.m. match against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Looking at the Competition - This is the first scheduled competition for all teams involved in the Green Mill Restaurant Classic. It will also be the first meeting between New Mexico and Miami, Stephen F. Austin and Georgia. The Lobos are 2-0 against host Wichita State. The last time the two schools met was during the 1998 season at the Oregon State Classic where UNM defeated WSU, 3-0 by the scores of 15-12, 15-12 and 15-11.
Head Coach Kelley Sliva - Sliva comes to UNM after spending the past nine years at Northern Arizona University where she posted a career record of 143-104 (.579) and a 79-57 mark in the Big Sky. Sliva’s NAU teams scored five straight winning seasons, going 90-45 since the 1997 season.
While at NAU, Sliva took the Lumberjacks to their first NCAA Volleyball Championship appearance (1999) and earned two Big Sky titles (1999 tournament and 2000 regular season). Sliva was named the 1999 Big Sky Coach of the Year.
Mountain West Conference - The Lobos were selected to finish seventh in the MWC preseason volleyball coaches poll. According to the league’s coaches Utah, followed by CSU will rank No. 1 and 2. BYU, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, UNM and Air Force round out the poll.
Libero - The NCAA is implementing several rules changes this season including adding the libero (lee-bah-ro), which is a designated back-row player, intended to be used as a ball-control specialist. The libero is allowed to replace any player in the back row without counting as a substitution. There is no limit to the number of libero replacements a team is allowed. The color of the libero’s uniform must contrast from the color of her teammates uniforms. Some playing restrictions for the libero include: playing in the back row only; may not serve; and may not block or attempt to block.
2002 Season Preview - The University of New Mexico volleyball team begins it’s 28th season of competition under the tutelage of new head coach Kelley Sliva. Sliva will take the Lobos into a tough slate of competition with a core group of returning players, including four starters.
Sliva’s enthusiasm for the game is an asset, not only for her players, but for Lobo fans as well. With experience being the key to success, then this year’s team hopes to improve and rebuild the program to those of years past. The new coaching staff, which includes assistants Brent Aldridge and Lynne VanderMey, feels the necessary ingredients are in place to begin the construction of a new volleyball era.
“This program will be built around quality young women who desire to excel in the classroom and on the court,” stated Sliva. “We made a long term commitment and trust in time that we will share a top Division I volleyball program with the Albuquerque community.”
Leading the Lobos into action this season include returning starters, senior Vanessa Shields, juniors Lynzie Hayes and Anna Reines, and sophomore Cayse Kaveny.
Along with seniors Staci Masten and Blaire Burns, the veterans welcome sophomore transfer Monica Meihack, from Oregon State, junior Andrea Sanchez, and freshmen Alicia Judy and Chelsea Sondrup into the fold.
Unfortunately the Lobos suffered a key loss in the preseason. Senior setter Kelly Griffin tore her ACL and will undergo surgery. She will be lost for the season.
A trio of players will counted on to dominate the middle for the Lobos including hitters Reines, Hayes and hitter/blocker Shields. The Lobos strength lies in their middle hitters and competition for playing time will focus on the three upperclassmen, sophomore Cayse Kaveny and freshman Chelsea Sondrup.
Senior Vanessa Shields, from Grover Beach, Calif., is in her fifth season with the Lobos after sitting out the 1999 season with a knee injury. Last season Shields scored 134 kills and led the team in blocking with 68 total blocks (7 solo, 61 assisted). She was one of three Lobos named the 2002 MWC All-Academic team. Shields, Reines and former defensive specialist Alex Tixier were honored for maintaining above a 3.0 grade point average and participating in 66% of the team’s matches. This was the second such honor for Shields.
Making an immediate impact offensively for the Lobos was sophomore transfer Anna Reines from the University of Minnesota. Last season Reines led the Lobos in kills with 295, averaging 3.31 per game. She scored double figure kills in 15 of 25 matches last season, including nine of the last 10. Reines was the lone Lobo to be named to the LMU Volleyball Classic all-tournament team, secured by offensively scoring 50 kills in the three-match sequence.
Junior Lynzie Hayes, from Rapid City, S.D., has established herself in the middle, scoring career highs last season in total blocks with 52 (2 solo and 50 assisted) and in kills with 141. Hayes, a versatile athlete, should make some noise this season. Although troubled with knee problems, Hayes has battled through it and become a force to be reckoned with in the middle.
Senior Blaire Burns, of La Costa Canyon, Calif., has come off the bench in a variety of different capacities for the Lobos - primarily in the role of defensive specialist. Burns is also a threat as an outside hitter. She played in 89 of 90 games for the Lobos last season and scored a career high 7 service aces against Wyoming which lists second in UNM single match records. Look for Burns to compete for playing time as a defensive specialist.
Senior Staci Masten, from nearby Durango, Colo., was called off the bench in 65 games last season as a defensive specialist. Masten scored 69 digs, a career high, averaging 1.06 digs per game. She scored 17 aces last season including a career-high four against Air Force.
Stepping into the lineup as a freshman was Cayse Kaveny. Kaveny, from San Jose, Calif., was a threat not only as a blocker, but as a hitter. Kaveny earned a spot in the starting lineup midway through the season. She finished with 79 kills for a 1.04 per game average and scored a career-high 15 kills and a team season-high seven block assists against AFA. Look for Kaveny to establish herself in the middle.
New to the program is sophomore transfer from Oregon State Monica Meihack. Meihack, from Fallon, Nev., will challenge for playing time as a setter. Meihack saw limited action with the Beavers last season playing in only 11 games. She scored 42 assists for a 3.82 average. Meihack participated in spring ball with the Lobos and has established a repoire with the returning players.
Freshman Chelsea Sondrup, a 6-0 middle blocker from Lindon, Utah, played high school volleyball at Pleasant Grove High School. As a prepster, Sondrup was named 2001 state 4A Most Valuable Player and her team was crowned state champions her senior year. She received 2001 honorable mention all-america honors and was named to the all-region VII and the Utah all-star volleyball teams. Sondrup was a two-sport athlete at Pleasant Grove having played softball as well.
Andrea Sanchez is a walk-on to the Lobo Volleyball team from Los Lunas, N.M. She is the lone New Mexico native on this year’s roster. Will be competing for playing time at the defensive specialist positon.
Freshman Alicia Judy comes to UNM from Bloomington, Minn. Judy, a 6-1 right side hitter, comes to the Lobos from Jefferson High School in Bloomington. She was named all-Lakes Conference her senior year, honorable mention her sophomore and junior years. Judy also lettered in track.
The schedule, as usual, does not beg away from competition. It is difficult and should test the Lobos will and determination to achieve success. The season starts off with four tournaments to begin the non-conference schedule. Of the teams UNM will face this season, seven teams participated in the 2002 NCAA Women’s Volleyball championship including Pepperdine, Arizona, UCLA, and conference foes BYU, Utah, SDSU, and CSU.
“We have a great schedule,” admitted Sliva. “When I look at our non-conference schedule, we obviously have three or four opponents that I think are in the top-10, top-15 in the country. But at the same time, I look at our other opponents and we, if we are playing to our potential, have a chance to beat.”
“We’ve set goals that we feel our team is prepared to meet,” said Sliva. “Our goal right now heading into the season is to get to know the players, have a clear understanding of what they can do, and create a team identity.”
Expectations are always high for any athletic program, volleyball is no exception. The Lobos have struggled the last few years with coaching changes and poor records. UNM looks to Sliva to point them in the right direction to rebuild, and refocus. With the talent on the team, look for the Lobos to reach for new plateaus.