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Abbey Willison passes the ball in a game against ACU on Friday, March 30, 2018 at Lucky 66 Bowl.

Abbey Willison passes the ball in a game against ACU on Friday, March 30, 2018 at Lucky 66 Bowl.

Beach Volleyball: Lobos net three wins, one loss in home tournament

The University of New Mexico’s beach volleyball team turned in a dominant performance in their first home tournament of the season, at the Lucky 66 Bowl outdoor courts, clinching wins against Colorado Mesa University and Abilene Christian University both days, before falling to Arizona State University. These much needed victories pushed UNM’s record to 5-10 in their third week of season play.

Head coach Jeff Nelson seemed to express satisfaction with the game results and the venue.

“In terms of training and on-court facilities, this is the best place for us to train,” Nelson said of the Lucky 66 Bowl venue. He said that UNM’s beach volleyball program is relatively new, having just started its fourth season, compared to its indoor counterpart.

The Lobos took to the sand first against the CMU Mavericks, ultimately shutting them out in five straight doubles sets. Senior Maddie Irwin and freshman Erin Martin secured the first set victory against Taylor Woods and Katie Scherr with scores of 21-11 and 23-12.

Sophomore Lauren Twitty and senior Eastyn Batelo faced off next against Megan Gianinetti and Hana Peterman, getting past them 21-9 and 25-23.

Set three went to senior Chloe Crappell and freshman Yasmin Tan, as they bested Kasie­ Gilfert and Samantha Ritter 21-13 and 21-16.

Rounding things out junior Carly Beddingfield and junior Mercedes Pacheco notched a fourth set win scores of 21-18 and 21-10, while sophomore Emily Nenninger and Abbey Willison finished off set five, sweeping their rivals 21-16 and 21-14.

The Lobos next faced the ACU Wildcats, a team that UNM beat in Phoenix three weeks ago. History repeated itself in Albuquerque as well, as the Lobos played to a 4-1 victory against the Wildcats on Friday evening, and 5-0 in a Saturday rematch.

ACU coach Seth Alstrom said that their beach program is only in their first year and has only been practicing for about three months.

“We have continually been getting better and New Mexico is our standard to see how we are progressing”, Alstrom said.

Things proved more challenging against the ASU Sun Devils whose record stands at 8-10. UNM ultimately fell 4 sets to 1 against ASU.

Twitty and Baleto led the Lobos to their only set victory in 21-19 and 21-12 wins over Kara Woodward and Sydney Palmer. However, Irwin and Martin, Crappell and Tan, Beddingfield and Pacheco, and Kayla Long and Willison all fell to their ASU rivals.

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“I think every weekend we’ve been able to build on the weekend before, and we’ve just continuously gotten better”, said senior Chloe Crappell.

Crappell, one of three seniors on the team, said she had mixed feelings about this being her last season.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” she said. “I was one of the very first ones, because the program started four years ago.”

However, she also expressed enthusiasm for the program overall. “Coming in as a freshman and seeing the growth of the program over the past years has been so awesome and I can’t wait to see how far this team can go,” she said.

The Lobos will return to action on the road on April 6, as they go up against California State University in Bakersfield, Calfornia.

Aaron Cowan is a volunteer reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers volleyball and men’s and women’s golf but also writes on areas including culture and politics. He can be contacted at or on Twitter@AaronTCowan.

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