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UNM’s Kelly Williamson gets ready to spike the ball during the Lobo Invitational at Johnson Center earlier this season. The Lobos take on TCU tonight at home in their conference opener.

Conference play, a new hope

The UNM volleyball team opens its Mountain West Conference (MWC) play tonight at Johnson Center against a familiar foe, the MWC powerhouse Texas Christian University.

“We have a rivalry against TCU,” senior outside hitter Kelly Williamson said. “They always do well in our conference.”

This season is no different. The Horned Frogs lead the Mountain West Conference going into tonight’s match with a 13-1 record.

After winning its first 13 matches of the season, TCU fell in three games to No. 8 Texas on Tuesday.

Williamson said when conference play starts, past records don’t matter.

“Conference is just kind of a totally different ball game,”
Williamson said. “We have a new mind set. We’re back at 0-0.”
Senior Ashley Rhoades leads the team in kills and blocks this season and leads the conference in kills per set.

Head coach, Jeff Nelson said Rhoades shines under pressure.
“When we get tight in matches, she just takes over,” Nelson said.

“It’s her senior year. I think there’s a bit of urgency there.”

In the three five-set matches the Lobos have played this year, Rhoades has scored more than half of the team’s points in the final set.

Senior Allison Buck has also made an impact this season. Last week at the Pitt Blue and Gold Classic in Pittsburgh, Buck set a school record and career high in a four-set match with 36 digs against Delaware.

She is now third place in the all-time career digs list at UNM with 1,272.

“She’s breaking records,” Nelson said. “She has just been amazing for us.”

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One of the Lobos’ goals this season is to win its conference championship, and Buck said accomplishing this goal starts at home during conference play.

“You have the mind set of ‘no one’s going to beat you at home and no one’s going to beat you in the conference’ because that’s your goal,” Buck said.

The Lobos also happen to be playing the Horned Frogs on “Jam Johnson and Love Red, Live Green” night.

Love Red, Live Green is a project Williamson has worked on since the summer. At the entrance of Johnson Center, Williamson said there will be a list of suggested readings and movies that can educate people on sustainability.

Re-usable grocery bags and water bottles will be given out during the match and volunteers that have partnered up with Williamson will present an information demo during halftime on how to recycle. Tickets will be sold at the reduced price of $3.

Nelson said all of the garbage from the match will be recycled or composted.

“We’re going to divert a whole bunch of waste from the landfill and it will be either composted or recycled,” Williamson said.

Williamson put together another project similar to this one last season, and Nelson said that’s one of the things that makes her special.

“She’s amazing,” Nelson said. “She’s creative. She’s a classy kid. She’s very intelligent and just a really good person.”

Up Next
Volleyball vs. TCU
Today, 7 p.m.
Johnson Center

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