New Mexico had a long day on Saturday, splitting its final doubleheader of the year while taking both non-conference matches the full five sets.
UNM (9-4) couldn’t quite close things out in a 3-2 loss to Samford for the morning contest. After dropping the first set 25-21, the Lobos rebounded to take sets two and three with 25-17 and 25-22 scores, respectively.
However, after winning two in a row, New Mexico’s momentum would falter, as the team couldn’t manage to win one of the next two sets to put Samford away, dropping the fourth 25-23, and falling in the deciding set 17-15.
UNM’s hard-hitting outside hitters, Cassie House and Devanne Sours, both posted dominant turnouts in the final tournament of the year. Against Samford, House matched her career-high with 21 kills, while Sours slammed home 14 kills without committing a single error.
Despite the strong numbers from the seniors, the Lobos couldn’t pick up the win.
“We came out flat again on Saturday and lost to a team we should have beaten,” head coach Jeff Nelson said in a release. “I am really disappointed as we lacked the discipline needed to win. We seem to take our opponents for granted. Samford played very hard and deserved the win.”
Nelson said in the statement that his team lacked leadership, usually provided by UNM’s go-to utility player, Julia Warren. Though the senior compiled eight kills and 15 digs, her nine errors on the match put her in the red for hitting percentage, the only Lobo to do so.
It’s unusual for a team to out-hit an opponent and still lose, like the Lobos did in the fifth and final set against Samford (8-6). Despite hitting .375 compared to the Bulldogs’ .250, UNM couldn’t muster enough to take home the win in Arlington, Texas.
New Mexico could not dwell on the loss for too long, having to gear back up against University of Texas El Paso, another five-set thriller.
UTEP (2-10) also lost earlier in the day to Samford.
Warren had a much quieter contest following her rough offensive performance in the morning. She only took eight total swings, and dug out seven balls off the hardwood.
Sours’ confidence, by contrast, was far from low after her flawless morning. She followed the Samford showing by posting a career-high of 22 kills.
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Redshirt sophomore Victoria Spragg joined the group of Lobos players having career days, with her all-time high of 13 kills. In addition, freshman Lauren Twitty was not left out in her first career double-double against the Miners.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead early (25-14, 25-21), Nelson said he made changes in the third game, which posed some problems for UNM.
However, after tight third and fourth sets, which both went down to the wire (28-26, 25-23), the Lobos were able to dominate the fifth and final set 15-7.
“We made some changes in game three and struggled to stay on track,” Nelson said in a release. “I’m glad to get the win and be moving forward.”
The Lobos finished the weekend with an overall 3-1 record, after defeating Houston Baptist and UT Arlington by identical 3-1 scores on Friday.
Sours and Spragg were the two New Mexico players honored with all-tournament status.
With no more non-conference road trips or tournaments on the horizon, the Lobos will shift their attention to the Mountain West opener against Air Force in Johnson Center on Thursday. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT.
Liam Cary-Eaves is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers volleyball, women’s basketball and baseball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Liam_CE.