The University of New Mexico volleyball team dropped its opening match on Friday, but regrouped to earn a split in a double header on Saturday at the Idaho Volleyball Classic.
New Mexico (1-2) opened the tournament against Grand Canyon (2-1) on Friday and the schools needed all five sets to determine a winner.
The Lobos took the first set 25-17, but couldn't keep the momentum going and dropped the next two sets. UNM fought off defeat by taking the fourth set in convincing fashion, winning 25-11. But the ‘Lopes took the decisive fifth set, 15-13, to snag the 3-2 victory.
UNM junior Lauren Twitty gathered a total of 17 kills to lead the way for the Lobos on Friday, while senior Carly Beddingfield posted 10 blocks and chipped in seven kills in the losing effort.
The Lobos tried to dust themselves off on Saturday, but seemed to struggle on their way to getting swept 3-0 by Santa Clara (1-2) in UNM's first match of the day.
The Santa Clara Broncos pounded out 48 kills in the straight-set victory, while New Mexico put together 36 kills. The Broncos appeared to gain a big advantage by keeping the Lobos off guard early in points and were stingy defensively as well. Santa Clara tallied five service aces, compared to just one by UNM, and doubled its opponent up in the blocking category as well.
But the Lobos didn't go home empty-handed as the team finally got in the win column on Saturday evening against the tournament's host school, Idaho.
UNM narrowly took the first set by a score of 25-22. The teams traded victories over the next two sets, with the Lobos losing set two by a 25-18 count before regaining the advantage by grinding things out in the third, taking it 26-24.
New Mexico was not able to close things out though, as Idaho took a close fourth set by a 27-25 count to extend the match. With UNM facing its second winner-take-all scenario in as many days, the Lobos found themselves on the right side of the ledger, pulling out a 15-13 decision to earn a 3-2 victory.
UNM was led by Lauren Twitty, a stand out player for the Lobos throughout the weekend, who posted 14 digs and 20 kills in the final match against Idaho. New Mexico racked up a total 67 kills and 58 assists as a team against the Vandals.
New Mexico volleyball was picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West Conference at the beginning of the season, and will have its hands full trying to compete with Boise State, Fresno State and Wyoming, all of which started its season undefeated. UNM will begin conference play on Sept. 19 when it hosts Utah State.
Lobos will host the annual Lobo Classic, a tournament that will feature a field that includes Eastern Kentucky, Florida Gulf Coast and in-state rival New Mexico State. The matches begin on Friday, Aug. 31 and will be played at Dream Style Arena.
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Alanie Rael is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers volleyball and track and field, but but also contributes content for football. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AllyRael.