The Lobo beach volleyball team will host its only two home matches of the season on Friday and Saturday at Lucky 66 Bowl.
Taking on the familiar team Colorado Mesa twice this week, the Lobos are aiming at two easy wins, as they achieved in the 4-1 victory one month ago in Arizona.
“I am looking forward to play at home,” head coach Jeff Nelson said in an interview. “We played them earlier this year. We have to be more focused and ready to go, because they keep improving and their coaches are doing a good job.”
The Division II school doesn’t seem to bring much threat to UNM, as New Mexico dominated in all four matches between the two teams so far.
It should be a tuneup home week for the Lobos, to get some wins and climb up in the national rankings.
In the most recent AVCA and DiG Magazine polls, the Lobos (8-9) received votes and were unofficially ranked No. 22 in ACVA and No. 24 in DiG.
The beach volleyball program at UNM is comprised of both indoor and outdoor athletes, and as a result, the Lobos could only play beach volleyball for a few months.
“Overall, I think we’ve done quite well for the limited time and resources we play,” Nelson said. “We are beating the teams we should beat very badly, but it’s hard to close the gap on the really good teams when they played all the year around.”
Despite of the gap with top teams, both Lobo athletes and coaches spared no efforts in making the program more competitive.
The head coach revealed that the Lobos would increase the intensity of their practices to catch up with the Top 20 teams.
The top tandems in the team, No. 1 pair Cassie House and Ashley Kelsey and No. 2 spot Devanne Sours and Lise Rugland, continue to provide good results at their positions.
House and Kelsey were winning with a season record of 9-8. Sours and Rugland were unstoppable with 12-5.
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The most consistent pair, at the No. 3 slot, are Marisa Doran and Eastyn Baleto. The duo won 11 out of 16 matches (11-5).
Julia Warren and Lauren Twitty beat all three of their opponents last week to extend their record to 10-5. The pair played mostly on court five.
Some combos split to play in the No. 4 position. The pair of Jackie Baro and Carly Beddingfield posted a 2-7 record.
Nelson spoke highly of Victoria Spragg in her debut outdoor season. The middle blocker from Lobo indoor volleyball delivered a 5-3 personal record.
The Lobos will have a run in their schedule for the next three weeks with some easy matches, which should improve the team record.
New Mexico also expected its top two pairs to play against nationally ranked pairs, so that they could have a shot at a postseason.
The Lobos will play Colorado Mesa at 4 p.m on Friday, and 11 a.m. on Saturday at Lucky 66 Bowl. Admission is free for students and kids 18 and under.
Bo Yu is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers beach volleyball, track and field, cross country and volleyball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Bo_YuB.