This was a record-setting season for the UNM volleyball team.
Unfortunately, the Lobos were bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the first round with a 3-0 loss at the hands of No. 5 Southern California on Friday.
But there is much to celebrate in the Lobos’ accomplishments.
UNM ended its season with a 20-10 record, finishing 12-4 in the Mountain West Conference. The Lobos’ 12 wins are the most conference wins for a volleyball team in program history.
UNM also defeated No. 13 Colorado State 3-0 on Nov. 11 for its first win over a ranked opponent in more than two years.
“This season was great,” junior middle blocker Ashley Rhoades said. “We had our ups, and we had our downs, but what I’m most proud of is the fight in our team. We never gave up, and we faced everything together.”
The Lobos earned an onslaught of individual honors. Head coach Jeff Nelson was named the MWC Coach of the Year. Jade Michaelsen was named the MWC Setter of the Year, and junior libero Allison Buck shared co-Libero of the Year honors with Utah’s Keisha Fisher.
Senior outside hitter Lisa Meeter and senior middle blocker Taylor Hadfield were also named to the all-MWC team, and junior right-side hitter Kelly Williamson was named an Academic All-American.
“This team wasn’t looking for those individual-type of awards,” Michaelsen said. “We were very focused on improving as a team. When you have that kind of team unity, everyone deserves recognition for the success.”
The three seniors — Hadfield, Michaelsen and Meeter — left their marks on the UNM volleyball history books.
Hadfield finished her career as a Lobo with 2009 All-America honorable mention honors. In addition, she led the team in hitting percentage and points this season.
Meeter joined the 1,000 kill, 1,000 dig and 100 ace club this season, becoming only the third player in MWC history to accomplish such a feat.
Michaelsen became UNM’s all-time assist leader on Oct. 23 and notched 4,174 assists in her career. She also among UNM’s top 10 in total blocks and block assists.
“Our seniors were great team leaders, teammates and, most of all, friends,” Rhoades said. “They are amazing athletes, and they were a big part of our team’s success this year. We’ll miss them so much next year.”
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UNM also gained national attention in 2010 for its attendance figures, ending the season with the 12th-best attendance figures in the nation with an average of 2,232 fans per home game.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that we went undefeated at home in conference this season,” Michaelsen said. “To be able to share that with our fans is priceless. We have the best fans. They’re so supportive of us, and they’re very knowledgeable about the game. It’s nice to be surrounded by that.”
And the Lobos weren’t afraid to play ranked teams this season, facing off against No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Hawaii, No. 5 USC and No. 13 Colorado State.
“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Rhoades said. “By facing so many ranked teams, we get to see what the next level looks like, and now we know what we need to do to get there.”