UNM Heads West for Three Matches
Sept. 24, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Volleyball (14-2, 2-0 MW)- On the Road @ CSU Bakersfield, Fresno State and UNLV
Wednesday, Sept. 26: Lobos at CSU Bakersfield, 7 p.m. MT -- Live Stats
New Mexico carries an overall record of 14-2 and is coming off two big conference wins at home over MW preseason No. 1 Colorado State (3-2) and Wyoming (3-1). The Lobos came back from an 0-2 deficit on Thursday night to beat the Rams, 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.
With three matches on this week's slate, Lobo head coach Jeff Nelson's biggest concern is the health and energy level of his student-athletes.
"My biggest hope for this team is just that they don't run out of gas," Nelson said of his 10-player roster. "They work so hard -- I'm very impressed with how hard this group works."
Nelson knows his team will be tested this week, not just because the team is on the road, but because the teams UNM will face are playing well.
CSU Bakersfield (6-7*) is riding a four-match win streak after winning its Roadrunner Classic last weekend with two 3-1 wins over Maryland-Eastern Shore and a win over Utah Valley. Fresno State (8-6*, 1-1 MW) did well in its non-conference schedule and opened up MW play on the road last week, outlasting Boise State, 3-2, on Thursday night before dropping a 3-1 match at Air Force on Saturday. Like the Lobos, the Rebels (9-5*) are 2-0 in conference play, picking up a win at Air Force, 3-1 on Thursday and a five-set win at Boise State on Saturday. *All three teams have matches before playing the Lobos this week. Fresno State leads the league in digs, averaging 15.57/set. UNLV is No. 1 in assists (12.98) and kills (13.83) and is second for attack percentage (.243).
"It's a tough road trip for us," Nelson said. "Fresno State is playing well, they've won a lot of tight matches and they're gaining confidence. UNLV is improving match-by-match throughout the season."
The Lobos too, should carry some confidence with them on the road. New Mexico is first in the MW in win-loss percentage, .875, and is first in ace serves with 98 total (1.61/set).
Redshirt sophomore Chantale Riddle also tops the league in kills, averaging 4.16/set and points, earning a set average of 4.81.
New Mexico will return home next week, Thursday, Oct. 4 for a 7 p.m. match against Boise State in The Pit.
WEEK 6 NOTES
On CSU Bakersfield (6-7 overall*)
All-time series... 0-0, first meeting
On Fresno State (8-6*, 1-1 MW)
All-time series... 8-7, Lobos H: 4-2 A: 2-5 N: 2-0
On UNLV (9-5*, 2-0 MW)
All-time series... 13-16, Rebels H: 7-8 A: 6-8 N: 0-0
Nelson nears another Milestone... Lobo head coach Jeff Nelson's collegiate head coaching record sits at 349-203, just one win shy of 350 career victories. On Sept. 7, Nelson earned his 100th Lobo victory with a 3-2 win over Georgia Southern. He became just the second coach in UNM volleyball history to reach the 100-win mark, doing so in just over five seasons. Laurel Brassey Iverson is New Mexico volleyball's winningest coach with a Lobo record of 290-210, built over 17 seasons (1983-86, 1988-2000), but Nelson takes the crown as the UNM volleyball coach with most overall wins.
Shock and Rock... The Lobos opened Mountain West play by shocking and rocking Mountain West preseason No. 1 (RV) Colorado State. New Mexico dropped the first two sets (10-25, 18-25) of the Sept. 20 match before rallying to claim the next three (25-11, 25-20, 15-9). Alijah Gunsaulus led all players with a career-high 14 kills and 13 digs. It was the freshman's third collegiate double-double. It was just the third time since 1997 (when Rams' head coach Tom Hilbert took over CSU's program) that the Lobos have beaten CSU and the first time since 2006 that Colorado State dropped its conference opener. New Mexico improved to 2-0 in MW matches with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-19) win over Wyoming on Sept. 22. Chantale Riddle led all players with 18 kills, nine digs and three blocks. Junior Lexi Ross hit an exceptional .476, finishing with 13 kills (ties career-high) on 21 attempts and adding five blocks and three digs. Lena Skipper was the third Lobo to record double-digits in kills, tallying 10 and adding 10 digs.
Gutsy gals... Jeff Nelson's 2012 Lobos have gutted out four five-set match wins and have dropped just one match that has gone to five games. Last season the Lobos struggled in five gamers, going 1-6.
Come back kids... New Mexico dropped the opening sets of both of its matches this week and still managed to pick up two wins. The Lobos are 5-1 in matches in which they lose the first set.
Down the road... The Lobos return home for a pair of games next week. New Mexico welcomes Boise State to The Pit on Oct. 4 for a 7 p.m. match. The Lobos will play Air Force at 12 p.m. in the Johnson Center on Oct. 6.
There's No Place Like home... New Mexico has built an 8-1 record at home this season, and hasn't dropped a home match since Aug. 24 (1-3 to Duquesne). New Mexico is 5-0 when playing at a neutral site and is 1-1 when playing on the road.
Early Bumps... New Mexico's roster consists of 10 healthy players after losing three Lobos to season-ending injuries. Sophomore Elsa Krieg is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. The Lobos' middle blocker was off to an excellent start on the season, leading the MW in hitting percentage with a .399 and service aces (19 tot., .53/set). Krieg sustained the injury in practice on Sept. 11.
New Mexico is also without freshmen Ashley Kelsey and Sara Stelzer. Kelsey, a dynamic outside hitter, will redshirt the season due to a torn ACL sustained in the first set of the Lobo Alumni Match on Aug. 18. Defensive specialist Stelzer is also missing from UNM's lineup as she is out due to a flare up of a concussion that happened outside of volleyball this summer.
Ace, Ace Baby... The Lobos lead the Mountain West in ace serves having recorded 98 on the season (1.61/set). Five players (four active) have double-digits in aces: Lexi Ross and Elsa Krieg lead UNM and Ross is third in the MW with 19, Ashley Newman has 17, Jordan Russell has 13 and Lena Skipper has 11.
Riddle An Individual Leader in the Mountain West... Redshirt sophomore Chantale Riddle leads the Mountain West in kills (4.16/set) and points (274.0 tot., 4.81/set).
Feel that freshmen impact... A few of New Mexico's freshmen are seeing plenty of court time and are making an impact for the Lobos. Redshirt freshman Hannah Johnson has played in every set and is averaging 5.38 assists/set. Johnson also has 28 kills, two ace serves, 26 digs and 36 blocks, including three solo blocks. True freshman Alijah Gunsaulus has played in all but two of the Lobos' sets, averaging 2.16 digs and 1.25 kills. Gunsaulus has also recorded seven ace serves and ten blocks. True freshman Skye Gullatt and Megan Short have seen more playing time since Elsa Krieg is out with a torn ACL. Gullatt is averaging 1.27 kills/set and carries a .312 hitting percentage. She also adds .73 blocks/set. Short brings 1.10 kills/set and .52 blocks/set.
Double Up... Chantale Riddle is fourth in the MW for season double-doubles with seven. Jordan Russell has four double-doubles, Alijah Gunsaulus has three while Lena Skipper has two so far this season.
Three October Matches in The Pit... Lobo volleyball will play three of its five home matches in October at The Pit in order to avoid parking and other logistical conflicts as The Lion King is showing at Pope Joy Hall on the campus of UNM. While The Pit is known as being the home of Lobo basketball, the UNM volleyball program called The Pit home from 1996-1999. The Lobos split time between the Johnson Center and The Pit in 1999, playing conference matches at the Johnson Center and non-conference contests in The Pit before moving back to the Johnson Center full time in 2000. The Pit was also the site of the 1992 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Final Four in which Stanford defeated UCLA by a 3-1 decision, while Long Beach State and Florida were semifinalists.