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Senior middle blocker Simone Henderson celebrates at Johnson Center Oct. 29. The Lobos beat Fresno State this Saturday 3-0 and play Utah State this Wednesday at 7 p.m..

Senior middle blocker Simone Henderson celebrates at Johnson Center Oct. 29. The Lobos beat Fresno State this Saturday 3-0 and play Utah State this Wednesday at 7 p.m..

Volleyball: Lobos receive spark from the outside as end of season nears

The Lobos have been searching for a go-to player all season. Outside hitter Cassie House is beginning to emerge as that player as the season comes to a close.

New Mexico (15-13, 8-7 MW) was staring a four-game losing streak in the face. The squad asked House for some guidance, and the tall Rio Rancho native answered with her first career double-double of 10 kills and a career-high 11 digs. Behind the hard-hitting outside, UNM conquered Fresno State (14-15, 6-9 MW) with a 3-0 sweep on Saturday afternoon.

In three of House’s last four matches, the outside hitter has collected double-digit kills while hitting above .278 in each of the contests. Although UNM has lost three of those same four matches, it seems the Lobos may have found their breakout player with just three opponents left on the 2015 schedule.

Outside hitter Devanne Sours tied Fresno State’s Carly Scarbrough with the match-high 12 kills. While Sours, the team leader in kills (317), has also put forth double-digit kills in three of the last four games, she has not hit with the same proficiency that House has.

Outside hitter Julia Warren also put together 10 kills on the night, making this the second time each of UNM’s starting outsides has put up double-digit bids in the kill column.

UNM’s success from the outside derives from setting up the passing, which setter Hannah Johnson has done quite a bit of during her tenure in Cherry and Silver. The senior’s 38 assists on the night has placed her just 128 behind the program leader Jade Anderson (4,174).

Johnson’s 1,023 assist mark on the season (4,046 overall) is the third time the senior has tallied more than 1,000 in a season. The Washington native will have to put up some big numbers to have a shot at being New Mexico’s all-time leader in assists.

Johnson is averaging 36.5 assists throughout the 28 matches UNM has played this season — 9.84 per set. With just three matches left on the calendar, Johnson will have to average nearly 43 assists per contest — a difficult number to reach, but not impossible.

Although Johnson only needed three sets to collect 38 assists, each of the three games were close, despite a high-rolling Lobo offense.

To start the contest off, New Mexico came out on a mission and swung to a .556 percentage. Despite such a torching number, the Lobos barely squeaked past the Bulldogs 25-23 in the first set. Fresno put forth a respectable .333 hitting percentage in the first game.

Both offenses cooled in the second set as neither could get over the .250 mark. It was the Bulldogs in the second game that would outhit UNM. A 24-21 lead quickly dissipated for UNM late in the second set after Fresno State tied the contest up at 24.

It was middle blocker Simone Henderson who would earn point 25, followed by Johnson’s trademark off-speed shot to close the second set out 26-24.

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UNM was able to leave California in the third set with a little bit more breathing room in a 25-22 game, completing the sweep.

Wednesday night will be the final time UNM will play in front of the home crowd at Johnson Center this season. Lobo fans will say their goodbyes to seniors Johnson, Henderson and middle blocker Skye Gullatt.

Johnson and Gullatt have both played their entire collegiate careers in a UNM uniform, while Henderson transferred to New Mexico last year, her junior year. Henderson played for the University of Alabama in 2011 before transferring to Grossmont College and ending her playing days in a Lobo uniform.

New Mexico and last-place Utah State (6-23, 2-13 MW) will face off at 7 p.m. for the only meeting between the two clubs this season.

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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