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Friday, November 28, 2014

Lobos whip conference rival UW

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By Paul Crespo / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Freshman Alijah Gunsaulus picks out a dig against Wyoming University on Saturday at Johnson Center. The Lobos went on to win 3-1 for their second conference win of the season.

sports@dailylobo.com

The Lobo volleyball team continued its winning ways with a 3-1 set victory over Wyoming University on Saturday night.

UNM (14-2) dropped the first set 23-25 to the Cowgirls (11-4) but came back with a vengeance in the final three sets.

Leading straight into the second game, redshirt sophomore right setter Chantale Riddle came out strong, crushing three spikes cross court from the right side to cut Wyoming’s lead to two. The game was tied when junior outside hitter Lena Skipper served an ace right on the line, and the Lobos took the lead with serving and quick sets from senior setter Jordan Russell to middle blocker freshman Skye Gullatt. The Lobos won the final three sets with scores of 25-17, 25-18 and 25-19.

At the end of the final set, junior outside hitter Ashley Newman had three ace serves in a row, giving the Lobos a quick victory.

Riddle led the kills for the night with 18, more than any player on the board. Junior middle blocker Lexi Ross followed with 13.

Russell led both teams with 25 assists, and redshirt freshman hitter Hannah Johnson had 23. Junior libero Miquella Lovato had the most digs with 24.

Ross said the slider spike — a technical hit from the middle to right side — is something they practice often, as evidenced by the results.

“We work on it every day in practice,” Ross said. “We work on everything. Head coach Jeff Nelson is really into technique and fundamentals and doing the little things right, which makes everything become easier. I think we all played well. We played as a team, and that’s all we can ask for every night is go out and battle, so it was great.”

Nelson said the team’s chemistry has been good despite having only one senior leader: Russell.

“I think you know we’re young, and we have a good senior leader, and the chemistry just seems to be really nice. They’re being very mature and really handling things well,” he said. “My biggest hope with this team is that they just don’t run out of gas, because they work so hard. I’m just absolutely impressed with how hard they’re working right now.”

Nelson said he hopes the Lobos can keep the momentum going through conference play.

“It’s everything we keep preaching,” Nelson said. “You know we got outhit in the first game. We came back and just barely outhit them in the next two, but we dug a lot more balls and we were tough, and that’s what we’ve been preaching.”