The University of New Mexico volleyball team will begin its season on the road, playing three matches over two days in the Idaho Volleyball Classic.
New Mexico is no stranger to opening up on the road, having done so in three of the past four seasons. And the Lobos have fared well — winning two of three matches at the Cyclone Invitational in Iowa last season and doing the same in Indiana to start the 2015 campaign.
Another common factor will include the host school for this year’s tournament — Idaho.
New Mexico and Idaho met in Albuquerque in 2016 as the Lobos hosted a tournament to start the season.
The Vandals escaped with a 3-2 victory, but the Lobos will get a chance to return the favor as the teams meet again on Saturday, Aug. 25 in the final pairing of this year’s tournament.
Grand Canyon and Santa Clara are the other schools that will compete in the Idaho volleyball Classic.
Idaho put together an 18-11 record last season, while New Mexico and Santa Clara both turned in .500 campaigns. Grand Canyon appeared to have a rough time last year, going just 8-18.
But last year is in the rear view mirror and each squad will be looking to assert itself and get off to a good start.
UNM looked pretty sharp in its Aug. 18 exhibition match against the Fort Lewis Skyhawks, if that is any indication of how things might go. New Mexico won its sets by a score of 25-17, 25-11 and 25-15, sweeping its way to a 3-0 win.
Junior outside hitter Lauren Twitty, the squad’s leader in kills last year, appeared to pick up where she left off. She hammered out 12 kills, while committing just one error against Fort Lewis.
The Lobos seemed to get a solid contributions from many of the upperclassmen and will probably need them to turn in similar performances in Idaho as they find the right mix of players.
Senior middle blockers Mariessa Carrasco and Victoria Spragg ranked No. 2 and 3 respectively in kills on the team last season. Both of them averaged well above 2.0 kills per set in 2017 and tallied over 100 blocks each as well to show their importance as dual threats.
New Mexico will face Grand Canyon on Friday, Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m. in its opening match and will square off against both Santa Clara and Idaho the following day.
All three UNM matches can be streamed here, courtesy of the Big Sky Conference.
The Lobos will return home to host the Lobo Classic as they play their home opener against Eastern Kentucky on Aug 31.
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 email@example.com or on Twitter @AllyRael.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and baseball and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.