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Saturday, December 20, 2014

UNM 125: Volleyball wins first-round match

Printed December 9, 1981

After a first round win over Miami (Ohio), the Lobo women’s volleyball team will be seeking an early Christmas gift this weekend at the NCAA Southwest Regional meet in Provo, Utah.

UNM defeated the Redskins 11-15, 15-11, 15-11, 15-9 Saturday night at University Arena before almost 1,500 fans, and will move on to play second-ranked San Diego State Friday night.

But after the first game against Miami, head coach Mike Hebert may have been hearing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in his head. UNM had four serves that were either long or in the net and was penalized three times for being out of position in the back row.

Despite the early mistakes, the Lobos trailed only 9-8 before Miami ran off five points to stretch their lead to 14-8. Rene DeGraff, a Mid-American All-Conference player, put away the kill to end the first game.

Bu the Lobos regrouped, and Kelly Knowles, Kim Hicks and Terri Nielson began to show why they were All-Intermountain conference selections in the second match. UNM jumped to a 7-3 lead in the second game, but gave up three consecutive points on DeGraff serves.

UNM held on and won the second game but fell behind 3-0 and 6-3 early in the third. The Lobos rallied for nine straight points and a 12-6 lead they never relinquished.

“Overall we served pretty well,” said coach Mike Hebert. “Miami served well also, but not as hard, and that made a difference.”

Hebert said the layoff between the regular season and the playoffs hurt his squad. “I didn’t think it would bother us,” he said. “But it took us to the end of the fourth game before I thought we found our rhythm.”

Nielson agreed with her coach’s assessment, saying, “It took us a while to pick up their rhythm and get ours.” Nielson said she enjoyed playing before the big crowd, but “we got going with the crowd and it kept us out of our natural rhythm for a while.”

Hicks, a senior playing her last home match, said the Lobos would “have to be more intense to beat San Diego State than we were here.”

Hebert said he would change the offense for the Aztecs, who are 35-6 on the year compared to UNM’s 23-16 season record. “We’ll run a little more deceptive offense,” he said. “We can’t just throw it up and expect to slam it down against San Diego State like we did tonight.”