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Freshman defensive player Kayla Long serves the ball during the Cherry vs. Silver game on Aug. 18, 2017, at Johnson Gym. The Silver team took all three sets.
Freshman defensive player Kayla Long serves the ball during the Cherry vs. Silver game on Aug. 18, 2017, at Johnson Gym. The Silver team took all three sets.

Women’s Volleyball: Cherry tops Silver in exhibition match

With 22 practices under their belt, Lobo players made final pre-season preparations, hosting their Cherry vs. Silver intrasquad exhibition match on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. in Johnson Center. Cherry came out on top, dominating all three sets and racking up scores of 25-17, 25-20 and 25-16.

UNM Head Coach Jeff Nelson offered his take on the game saying, “I was actually quite happy with how we played. We have nine new players. I thought they were nervous...They had to step up, and they did.”

Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Twitty echoed Nelson’s views, saying, “Overall I thought the energy and effort was good. I think it was a good chance to get the nerves out of the freshmen and to get them some playing time.”

Twitty lead the match statistically with 16 kills, two errors on 28 total attempts and three blocks, giving her a .500 hit percentage. Her teammate, middle hitter Victoria Spragg, came close behind with a .467, including nine kills and five blocks. Other standout players included: Mariessa Carrasco with seven kills and three blocks, Carly Beddingfield with four kills and one block and Hailey Rubino with four kills and three blocking assists.

Leading on Cherry defense, Carson Heilborn delivered 34 assists. Ashley Kelsey contributed 18 digs, while Rubino tallied nine.

“It was really fun coming out for the first time and being able to play against the upperclassmen,” Rubino said of her first college game experience. “Our chemistry is really good, and we’ll keep building on that.”

The Silver squad contained all freshmen plus volunteer assistant Ricardo Sanchez, while Team Cherry included veterans and most of the likely starters. Team Silver still produced respectable statistics with Nicolette Clark recording seven kills, followed by Yasmin Tan who logged five and Abbey Willison with three.

On defense, Sarah Lobo put in 17 assists for Silver. Sanchez and Tan each contributed eight digs, and Kayla Long contributed six.

The game started with Cherry taking a lead at 10-3. Silver fought back, closing to within three points at 18-15. However, the Cherry team powered on, winning the first set 25 to 17 at 1:25 of play.

Team Silver was more competitive in the next set, tying things up at 8-8, 16, 17 and 18-all. Cherry kept the pressure on and edged ahead to take the set 25-20.

The final set, like the second, started with an 8-all tie. But errors on Team Silver and strong responses by Cherry paved the way for a 25-16 win in 19 minutes of play.

The team will have the next few days off before heading to Ames, Iowa at the end of the week to play Nebraska Omaha, Kent State and Iowa State in the Cyclone Invitational on Aug. 25 and 26.

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Lobos will stay on the road the following week for the Glory Road Invitational, playing UTEP, Youngstown and North Dakota in El Paso, Texas on Sept. 1 and 2.

The Lobos will return home Sept. 8 and 9 for the Lobo Classic against UT Arlington, Portland and Northern Colorado in Johnson Center. Visit for a complete schedule.

Aaron Cowan is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @AaronTCowan.

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