Lobo Volleyball Hosts Boise State and Air Force
Oct. 2, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Volleyball (15-4, 2-2 MW) -- Hosts Boise State (The Pit) and Air Force (Johnson Center)
Thursday, Oct. 4: Lobos host Boise State, 7 p.m. MT at The Pit
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico returns to Albuquerque for two Mountain West matches at home after playing three matches in four days on the road last week. The Lobos (15-4, 2-2 MW) went 1-2, picking up a non-conference win at CSU Bakersfield (3-1) on Sept. 26 before dropping consecutive conference contests at Fresno State (1-3) on Sept. 27 and at UNLV (0-3) on Sept. 29.
UNM hosts Boise State in The Pit at 7 p.m. MT on Thursday, Oct. 4. Fans should enter through the northeast doors. Tickets can be purchased there as well. Parking is free for the event and any Pit lot or the Stadium West lot may be used.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, the Lobos are back at the Johnson Center for a 12 p.m. MT match with Air Force. There is a 2 p.m. Lion King performance at Pope Joy on Saturday and fans should plan ahead as increased traffic around the Johnson Center and surrounding lots is expected two hours prior and one hour after the show. UNM events staff is encouraging fans to use the Yale Parking Structure for an hourly rate of $1.75. Credit cards only -- no cash.
The Lobos own the best overall record in the Mountain West at 15-4, but heading in to week No. 3 of conference play, UNM is sitting in fourth with a 2-2 league record. UNLV remains unbeaten in MW play at 3-0. Colorado State and Fresno State are second and third with 2-1 marks. The other five teams all have a 1-2 record.
What the conference records indicate is there are no gimme matches this year in the Mountain West. Head coach Jeff Nelson and his Lobos are well aware of this.
"Our conference race is crazy," Nelson said. "We have six teams from the conference in the top 100 in the RPI rankings. It's a strong league right now."
Thursday's match with Boise State is the first of three matches this month that will be held in The Pit.
"It's an interesting opportunity," Nelson said. "It's a huge venue for volleyball, so we've got some work to do over there in our next few practices as far as getting a feel for the range and depth of the court. I think it will be a good atmosphere and a lot of fun."
Senior captain Jordan Russell says she and the Lobos are looking forward to Thursday's match. Rightfully so, the home of Lobo men's and women's hoops is a special place. In June 1999, Sports Illustrated listed its top-20 sporting venues of the century and The Pit checked in at No. 13.
"It's a great opportunity and is something that we'll get to experience as a team," she said. "A lot of people don't get the chance to play in a place like The Pit."
Are the Lobos worried about playing in a bigger arena?
"We will become familiar with the court during practices this week," Russell said. "The one difference might be that fans are farther away from the court, but that just gives them a chance to be louder."
As far as the Broncos go, the Lobos can expect strong net play. Boise State is coming off a 3-0 win over Air Force last Friday and leads the Mountain West in team hitting percentage (.240) in league games and is second in overall kills (13.69/set) and in assists (12.88/set).
Bronco senior outside hitter Liz Harden is first in the league in MW matches for hitting percentage (.407) and kills, averaging 4.92 per set.
"Boise State is another team that is in the mix of the conference," Nelson said. "They have a couple of players that are really good hitters and they just got their first conference win so they're hungry right now and probably will be a little more confident right now."
Last season Air Force went 3-27 and 0-14 in league play, but the Falcons of 2012 are much improved and they look like a brand new team. Air Force has won seven matches so far, including its first conference win since 2010.
"Air Force comes in on Saturday and they're having a great year," Nelson said. "They went from having an RPI of 250 last year to an RPI of 150 this year. That's a big jump for them and they're getting a lot more confident."
The Lobos lead the Mountain West and are No. 19 nationally in ace serves with 117 on the season (1.62/set). Redshirt sophomore Chantale Riddle is first in the league in kills (4.15/set) and points (327.5 tot., 4.82/set).
A bit about Boise State (8-9 overall, 1-2 MW)
All-time series... 3-0, Lobos H: 1-0 A: 1-0 N: 1-0
Quick notes on Air Force (7-10, 1-2 MW)
All-time series... 27-3, Lobos H: 13-1 A: 4-2 N: 2-0
Lobo Volleyball - Week 7 Notes
Nelson reaches another Milestone... With UNM's 3-1 victory at CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 26, Lobo head coach Jeff Nelson earned career win No. 350. This is Nelson's 18th season as a head coach.
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.
Tough week on the road... Last week's three-match road trip was a tough one for UNM. Already down to a 10-player roster for a remainder of the season, New Mexico had just nine players against the Roadrunners on Sept. 26 as junior libero Miquella Lovato was out due to a repiratory infection. Lovato missed her first match since her freshman season.
The Lobos went 1-2, playing three matches in four days, picking up a win at CSU Bakersfield (3-1) on Sept. 26, before dropping consecutive Moutain West matches at Fresno State (1-3) on Sept. 27 and at UNLV (0-3) on Sept. 29. It was the first time all season UNM dropped consecutive matches and only the second time the Lobos have been swept. It was also the first time New Mexico has lost to UNLV since Oct. 17, 2009.
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 2-3 when playing on the road.
Three October Matches in The Pit... Lobo volleyball will play the first of three of its five home matches in October at The Pit this Thursday. The change in venue comes 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, compiling a record of 20-26 over those four seasons. 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.
Down the road... The Lobos have nearly a dozen days until their next match on Thursday, Oct. 18 at San Diego State. New Mexico will play at Nevada on Saturday, Oct. 20 before returning home for its Rio Grande Rivalry match with NMSU on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. in The Pit.
Come back kids... The 2012 Lobos seem to take a while to find their rythym in matches. New Mexico is 6-3 in matches in which they lose the first set.
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.
Ace, Ace Baby... The Lobos lead the Mountain West and are No. 19 nationwide in ace serves having recorded 117 on the season (1.62/set). Five players (four active) have double-digits in aces: Ashey Newman leads UNM and is third in the MW with 23, Lexi Ross has 22 (4th in MW), Elsa Krieg has 19, while Jordan Russell has 17 and Lena Skipper has 14.
Riddle an Individual Leader in the Mountain West... Redshirt sophomore Chantale Riddle leads the Mountain West in kills (4.15/set) and points (327.5 tot., 4.82/set).
Lovato leading in MW Matches... Junior libero Miquella Lovato leads the Mountain West in digs in conference-only matches. In 16 sets Lovato has 81 digs, a set average of 5.06.
NCAA Releases First RPI Ranking of 2012... Oct. 1 marked the release of the NCAA's first RPI ranking release. Among the nine MW schools, the Lobos are the second-highest at No. 63. Colorado State is 41st while Fresno State is No. 74 and UNLV is 89th.
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.