Lobo volleyball endured another rough week, falling to the Fresno State Bulldogs in three straight sets and dropping a match to the San Diego State Aztecs after four sets.
In the first game, despite periods of strong play by the Lobos, the Bulldogs dominated the scoreboard 25-15, 25-18 and 25-23. The second game against the Aztecs looked to be more promising for the Lobos, with UNM taking the first set 25-20.
However, the Aztecs staged a comeback, edging out UNM 26-24 in the second set, and never looked back, winning the next two sets 25-13 and 25-12. This puts the Lobos at 14-15 for the season and at 6-10 in the Mountain West Conference.
The Bulldog set the tone for the game early on, racing out to an initial 14-3 lead. While the Lobos managed to tie the Bulldogs for overall digs, at 29 each, and almost tied them for kills, 36-37, they were plagued by 28 attacking and receiving errors, compared to 12 for the Bulldogs. This dropped UNM’s hit percentage to .180, compared to a .317 clip for the Bulldogs.
There were some bright spots. Sarah Lobo logged a game-best 28 assists. Lauren Twitty also led her team with nine kills and nine digs, while Mariessa Carrasco, Victoria Spragg, and Yasmin Tan followed with seven kills each. Ashley Kelsey also tallied nine digs, which tied the match-high. However, these performances were not enough to compensate for higher than usual error rates.
In the second game against San Diego State, Lobo performances were much stronger. They put up the first five points of the match and held onto the lead almost the whole set, except once where they fell behind 17-16. However, they got back in control and claimed the first set 25-20. The Lobos stayed in control, largely leading the second set and appeared to be poised for victory at 23-16.
However, the Aztecs suddenly came alive and shifted into high gear. They staged a 10 point scoring rally, scraping past UNM for a 26-24 victory. After that, momentum seemed to shift to the Aztecs, who came out of intermission with a 15-4 lead which proved too much to overcome in the third set. The Lobos tried to answer but could not stop the Aztecs in the final set as they pulled away at the 17-7 mark and ultimately took the last set 25-12.
Individually, several Lobo players still have impressive performances. Hailey Rubino led offensively with 13 kills, followed by 10 from Twitty, nine from Carrasco, and five from Spragg. Sarah Lobo contributed 41 assists, which was just three shy of the match high. Ashley Kelsey also tallied 18 digs.
However, as a team the Lobos underperformed on some key metrics. They only managed to hit at a .175 clip, compared to .296 for the Aztecs, and were substantially out-blocked by the Aztecs 17 to 7. This combined with higher errors at 24-18, and 10 fewer kills, 48-58, put the win out of reach.
UNM will have many more chances to redeem themselves, however, with a flurry of matches in the next week. They will face UTEP and UNLV at home, and then close out their season against Air Force on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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 reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AaronTCowan.