The New Mexico volleyball team went on the road this week to Reno, Nevada and San Jose, California where it played against the Wolf Pack and the Spartans, respectively, coming up short in both matches.
It was UNM’s third week playing against Mountain West Conference competition, but the Lobos weren’t able to walk away with any wins on the trip.
Despite strong individual player performances, close scores and hard-fought battles, the Lobos ultimately went home with 0-2 for the week, falling to the University of Nevada in four sets and to San Jose State after five sets. UNM’s record now stands at 10-8 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West.
Coming into the game, UNM probably had high hopes, given that the Wolf Pack was just 4-12 overall. UNM has played the Wolf Pack 10 times and had posted an undefeated record until now.
However, the Nevada team, led by Ayla Fresenius — who posted 24 kills and 17 digs — was able to answer New Mexico on every point. While UNM managed to win the first set, the Wolf Pack rallied back and won the next three straight sets and ultimately the match with a score of 23-25, 25-23, 25-21 and 25-18.
Lauren Twitty led the way for the Lobos on offense, driving in 19 kills and 16 digs to record her sixth double-double of the season. Victoria Spragg followed with nine kills, along with Yasmin Tan, who recorded eight kills, and Carly Beddingfield, who contributed eight.
Carson Heilborn also led the match with 40 assists and 10 digs to notch her third double-double this season. Ashley Kelsey contributed 19 digs, while Mercedes Pacheco added 18 digs and Hailey Rubino chipped in 10 more to give UNM the edge on this metric, 77-76.
UNM was unable to match the precision of Nevada, racking up 27 attack errors compared to 19 for the Wolf Pack and were also outhit in the match. New Mexico hit at a .136 clip, while the Wolf Pack posted a .230 hit percent. Ultimately it was this that gave Nevada the edge it needed to slip past UNM for the win.
Against San Jose State the outlook was not as bright going into the match. The Spartans boasted an 11-5 record and some powerful players, such as Nandyala Gama, who has racked up 20-plus kills in the last three consecutive games this season. Some of their other heavy hitters included Guilia Gavio, who managed 18 kills, and Breann Robinson, who put in 50 assists.
The Lobos stumbled in the first set but then came back with wins in the second and third sets, putting them on the verge of victory.
“We started out in game one really poorly, but we played our way into the match,” UNM head coach Jeff Nelson said in a release.
Strong performances by Mariessa Carrasco, who drove in 15 kills and Spragg, who recorded 14 kills, helped to fuel the comeback. The Lobos also won the battle for blocks 11 to nine.
However, the Spartans chipped away at the Lobos, besting them in digs, kills and assists. They also managed a slightly higher hit clip at .281, compared to a .262 hit percentage for the Lobos.
All of that ultimately contributed to a victory in set four and a narrow win in set five. In the end, the scoreboard stood at 25-18, 16-25, 21-25, 25-18 and 15-13 in the Spartan’s favor.
“We should have won the match. We let a tough one get away,” Nelson said.
The Lobos will return home to play against San Diego State on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. and Fresno State on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m.
Aaron Cowan is a volunteer sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers volleyball and men’s and women’s golf. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @AaronTCowan.