Despite strong performances from individual players and heartbreakingly-close scores, the Lobo volleyball team went winless last week, falling to New Mexico State on the road and to Wyoming and Colorado State at home.
The Lobos (11-12, 3-7 MW) started the week with an away game on Monday, where they faced their Rio Grande Rival, New Mexico State University, but things quickly went awry, and they found themselves shut out in three straight sets. The final scores put the Aggies in line for the win, 25-18, 25-16 and 28-26, on their home turf in the Pan American Center.
UNM’s offense was led by Lauren Twitty, who notched 15 kills and nine digs. Ashley Kelsey recorded 12 digs, and Hailey Rubino also reached double digits with 10 digs coupled with seven kills. However, as a team they only averaged a .102 hit percentage, compared to a .254 hit clip for NMSU. Three NMSU players recorded double digit kills, with Tatyana Battle leading the way at 19 putaways.
On most other metrics, UNM lagged behind their rival, including in blocks — where they achieved six, as opposed to 12 for NMSU — assists, where they lagged 49 to 32 — and digs, where they made it almost even at 49 to 56. While the Lobos rallied hard in the third set, it was not enough to win the numerical advantages that NMSU built.
Thursday’s game against the Wyoming Cowgirls looked to be more hopeful, since UNM had beaten the Cowgirls before in a 3-0 match on Sept. 23. However, history did not repeat itself, as Wyoming managed to top the Lobos 3-1 this time, posting scores of 25-17, 25-27, 25-23 and 25-18.
Again, individual performances by Lobo players were strong. Twitty registered 19 kills and 13 digs, her ninth double-double of the season. Carly Beddingfield also tallied 13 kills, followed by Victoria Spragg, who contributed nine kills, and Yasmin Tan who made eight. Ashley Kelsey also racked up a game-high 20 digs.
Sarah Lobo made her debut as a starter, contributing 43 assists, which is the most by a UNM player since November of 2007.
“This game was a little nerve-wracking. I tried not to think about it...and just play volleyball,” Lobo said in a release.
While the Cowgirls struck early and took the first set, the Lobos rallied back with a second set win and a very narrow third set loss. This forced the do-or-die fourth set showdown where Wyoming was able to ride on their momentum.
Statistically, the Cowgirls outhit UNM at a .320 hit clip, compared to .255 for UNM. The Lobos were just slightly under Wyoming on digs at 54 to 56 but lagged on blocks 5 to 11. This, along with service errors, may have been what made the difference in close sets.
On Saturday, the Lobos faced their toughest challenge against the Mountain West Conference-leading Colorado State Rams, which have posted an impressive 20-2 overall record and are 10-0 in conference play.
While UNM did not come away with the win, they fought a hard, five-set match against CSU. They won the first two sets 25-21 and 26-24. However, CSU clawed their way back into the game with a 25-17 third set victory and then went on to take the remaining sets 25-16 and 15-11.
“We didn’t hold anything back the entire match,” said Lauren Twitty, who tallied her tenth double-double of the season. “I think it shows the level we can play at and that we can compete with great teams.”
Twitty led the Lobo effort with 19 kills and 18 digs, the latter of which was a career high. Mariessa Carrasco recorded 11 kills, followed by Beddingfield who put away 10, and Tan, who contributed nine more.
Lobo also earned her first double-double with 46 assists and 13 digs. Rubino dug for 12, and ultimately UNM topped CSU on digs 77 to 56. Another bright spot was in service errors where UNM only committed 4, compared to 17 for CSU.
CSU outperformed UNM in many other key statistical categories, with a .289 hit percentage, compared to UNM’s average of .205. CSU also led in blocks, 15 to 11, and in assists, 63 to 54.
The Lobos will face Utah State next, a team which they recently beat in their whiteout home match. This time, Utah State will host the match on Oct. 26 at 7 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AaronTCowan.