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UNM middle blocker Skye Gullatt spikes the ball against Nevada on Sept. 26 at Johnson Center. The Lobos play Fresno State and UNLV this weekend.

UNM middle blocker Skye Gullatt spikes the ball against Nevada on Sept. 26 at Johnson Center. The Lobos play Fresno State and UNLV this weekend.

Volleyball: Lobos return battered by rough road trip

New Mexico’s misfortune on the road warrants a need to foster wins in front of a home audience.

Away games have been a bit of a sore spot for UNM during the 2015 campaign, as the Lobos have only pieced together a 1-5 record in enemy territory. At Johnson Center and WisePies Arena, New Mexico has been able to garner a 5-3 record.

Nearly three weeks on the road will allow the Lobos to gather their thoughts after having plummeted into the bottom half of the standings. The latest four-game road trip featured a 1-3 showing against two of the top-ranked teams in the conference.

“Wyoming and CSU are great teams, and they have great coaches,” outside hitter Julia Warren said. “That’s the hardest road trip of the year.”

UNM is back home now and looking to move past its 2-3 Mountain West record (9-9 overall). Gathering wins won’t be an easy task for New Mexico during the brief two-game home stand, as the team will face off against Fresno State and UNLV, both of which are in the top half of the conference.

Tonight’s game against Fresno State (10-9, 2-3 MWC) will showcase two teams with the same conference record, although the Bulldogs own a .5 game advantage outside of Mountain West play.

If the Lobos are to have any hope of climbing out of their sub-.500 conference record, among seven other teams in the Mountain West, the Lobos must win these next two contests in front of the home crowd.

A lack of consistent play from several key spots on the hardwood has been a leading factor in the Lobos’ troubling performance throughout the season and during the first five games in the MW.

Libero has by far been the most inconsistent position for UNM. As the squad continues to search for its defensive voice, the Lobos have been required to rotate four different individuals through the spot.

Outside hitter Warren took over libero duties last Thursday against Colorado State (13-3, 6-0 MW). However, after losing the offensive talents of Warren to the defensive position, Nelson placed Warren back in her natural spot outside the block.

“I just think we haven’t found a lineup, and that’s really detrimental to us right now,” Warren said. “We’re playing teams that have had lineups set since the second week of their season.”

It hasn’t just been a game-by-game decision for Nelson, either. The head coach has often plugged and pulled players to and from the position in the middle of games.

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The libero position isn’t the only spot on the floor causing frustration for Nelson and the Lobos. In UNM’s 0-3 loss to the Wyoming Cowgirls (15-3, 5-1) on Saturday, UNM started middle blocker Simone Henderson in place of regular starter Cassie House.

“We’ve used way too many lineups, so we’re really going to focus in on one this week and just play it out,” Nelson said. “We’ve just been spinning the wheels too much, trying too many things, and we’re sitting at .500.”

House, coming off a shoulder surgery and a switch to the right side of the court, has had a difficult time during the transition. Although Henderson received the start, House rotated back to the left side hitting spot, where she was last year.

Her 11 kills off the bench were not enough to muster any sort of consistency through an entire set, but they were enough to lead the team in its trip to Laramie, Wyoming.

“At times it’s really, really good, and at times there’s a lot to work on,” Warren said. “I think if we can keep pushing, we can win some games down the line.”

Liam Cary-Eaves is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Liam_CE.

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