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Volleyball: Lobos comeback at UNLV comes up short

While facing a 2-0 deficit in Las Vegas, the Lobos comeback pursuit fell short on Thursday night.

New Mexico has had problems all season long in the fifth set and Thursday night’s showing against the Rebels was no different. UNM (14-13, 7-7 MW) have gone 1-6 in matches extending to five games.

Junior outside hitter Cassie House put up a fine night on the stat sheet collecting a season-high 19 kills, digging out four balls, and assisting on a block. From outside the block, House hit .319, but her efforts were to no avail as the Lobos couldn’t find a way to win three sets in a row.

I thought we did a really good job coming back, battling,” head coach Jeff Nelson said in a release following the contest. We really improved our numbers throughout the match… But in the end we needed someone to step up.”

Ever since the departure of Chantale Riddle, UNM’s dominant right side hitter, the Lobos have been in search of a playmaker to finish games. Hannah Johnson, one of three UNM seniors, has been putting up fine numbers from the setter spot, but has not found a go-to player late in games.

Johnson has showcased consistency off of the set and put forth yet another one of those performances on Thursday verses a UNLV squad (14-12, 7-7 MW) that just overtook UNM’s fourth place spot in the Mountain West.

The senior setter tacked on another double-double this season with 55 assists and 10 digs, making it her 11th on the year. Johnson also tacked on a blocking assist and five kills in her second double-double against UNLV in the 2015 campaign.

“I thought Hannah did a great job with distribution,” Nelson said in the statement. “Her distribution of sets was really good.”

Hannah set up her three junior outside hitters well who each reached double digits. House, Julia Warren, and Devanne Sours all combined for 43 of UNM’s 67 total kills. Senior Skye Gullatt also contributed to the cause with her own double-digit kill effort with 12 kills of her own from the middle blocker position.

The Lobos force the Rebels into more hitting errors, but were unable to outhit, out-block, or out-dig the Rebels in the five-set thriller.

Redshirt sophomore Ashley Kelsey had been named the starting libero almost a month ago, which seemed to have been working for New Mexico. However, due to undisclosed discipline issues, Nelson handed the white libero jersey over to freshman Mercedes Pacheco to start the match.

We had to make some pretty significant lineup changes because we had to take care of some discipline problems,” Nelson said. “So we had to leave a couple kids that are starters out And it really threw us at the start of the match. I don’t think we ever found a rhythm (in sets one or two).”

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Kelsey would later take care of the libero duties for Pacheco and facilitate a valiant comeback attempt that fizzled in the final set of the match.

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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