Lobos Eye Win No. 20 in Sunday's Match with CSU Bakersfield
Nov. 8, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Volleyball
Sunday, Nov. 11: Lobos host CSU Bakersfield, 1 p.m. MT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Head coach Jeff Nelson and his Lobos look to earn their 20th win of 2012 on Sunday, Nov. 11, in a non-conference match with CSU Bakersfield. It will be the second time this season that the two teams have met and the second time a milestone is on the line. When the Lobos defeated the Roadrunners in Bakersfield, Calif., on Sept. 26, it was for Nelson's 350th career victory.
Sunday's match begins at 1 p.m. MT in the Johnson Center.
New Mexico (19-9, 6-6 MW) went 1-1 on the Mountain West road last week, earning a 3-2 win at Air Force on Nov. 1 before being swept at Boise State on Nov. 3.
The Lobos were without junior libero Miquella Lovato for both matches as she sustained a head injury in a pre-match practice at Air Force. Junior middle blocker Lexi Ross handled defensive duties last week, tallying a career-best 23 digs against the Falcons and a match-best nine against the Broncos.
Redshirt sophomore Chantale Riddle broke in to the top 10 in Lobo volleyball history for single-season points and kills the week of Oct. 30 as her 42.5 points and 37 kills were enough for her to become No. 7 for single-season points (503.5) and No. 9 for single-season kills (432).
The Lobo record for points in a season dates back to 1991 when two-time All-American Pauline Manser recorded 565.0. The single-season record for kills dates back to 1981, when Kim Hicks recorded 528.and could possibly land a spot on the Mountain West's top 5 for single-season kills in overall matches and Mountain West-only matches (the MW doesn't track records for points).
Securing at least one win last week for the injury-plagued Lobos was a feat in itself.
"We are down five players, including four starters, from the beginning of the year," Nelson said. "To be quite honest, we were thrilled to get one win on the road. The team is working hard. It does get stressful and it does get chaotic when our lineup is constantly different."
The adversities faced as a result of the injuries are starting to grind on the group.
"There's no question the team is feeling everything that has happened," Nelson added. "All we can do is keep encouraging them to work and keeping having good character and keep playing hard."
The Lobos and the Roadrunners (12-16) met in Bakersfield on Sept. 26 with UNM earning the 3-1 victory. New Mexico's Chantale Riddle led all players with 17 kills, six digs and four blocks while Alijah Gunsaulus added 13 kills and Lena Skipper recorded 13 digs. CSUB's Araujo had 16 kills and eight digs against the Lobos while Kelsee Sawyer added 10 kills and three blocks. The `Runners hit .185 (47k-24e-124ta) while the Lobos hit .250 (48k-19e-116ta).
CSUB dropped a 3-0 (26-24, 25-19, 25-23) match at Boise State on Nov. 4 and lost, 3-1, at Hawaii Pacific on Wednesday. The Roadrunners will play at Chaminade on Friday before coming to Albuquerque on Sunday.
Junior outside hitter Debora Araujo leads CSU Bakersfield (4.13 kills, .193 pct., 2.06 digs, 4.75 pts). Freshman right-side hitter Kelsee Sawyer (2.52 kills, .212 pct.) and junior setter Fernanda Goncalves (10.15 assists, 1.60 digs) are also big contributors.
"Hopefully we can come out strong this weekend and get that 20th win," Nelson said. "Bakersfield has two Junior College All-Americans from Brazil that played at Western Nebraska Community College. They are feisty and aggressive and they keep the team in a lot of matches.
"The outside hitter (Debora Araujo) has the potential to go off for a lot of kills. Fortunately that plays to our strengths because Hannah Johnson and Chantale Riddle are really good blockers. It does play to our strength if we manage it well."
Ross and the Lobos know CSUB is likely looking to get even with UNM.
"I am expecting them to come out and play hard," she said. "When you play a team for the second time there is always a feeling of revenge for the team that didn't come out on top the first time around. Plus you have a better sense of what each team's game plan is, so it will just be a matter of who can execute their own game plan more efficiently."
If the Lobos secure win No. 20, it will be the fourth 20-win campaign for Nelson in the six years he has been at New Mexico (since 2007), and the 11th time the Lobo volleyball program has recorded a season with 20 or more wins. The most wins recorded by a UNM volleyball team was 28 (11 losses) under the direction of Laurel Brassey in 1983.
The Lobos will finish out their 2012 home schedule with two Mountain West matches next week. UNM hosts Nevada at 7 p.m. MT on Thursday, Nov. 15, and San Diego State at 11 a.m. MT on Saturday, Nov. 17. Both matches will be in the Johnson Center. Saturday's match with the Aztecs is Senior Day and UNM will honor Jordan Russell and Ashley Newman.