The Boise State Broncos defeated the University of New Mexico volleyball team in straight sets while playing host to the Lobos on Saturday in Idaho.
The Lobos (7-7, 1-1 MW) won its conference opener against Utah State on Wednesday, but fell to the Broncos in straight sets, looking like they were steps behind in each set as they tried to compete.
Boise State opened by scoring six of the first seven points to gain an early five-point advantage. That lead swelled to seven as the match progressed, but the Lobos were able to close the gap with a 6-0 run — one that included three kills from outside hitter Lauren Twitty and an ace from libero Mercedes Pacheco to pull with 14-13.
Things remained tight for the remainder of the first set as both teams fought to keep the lead. New Mexico took its first of several leads at 17-16 and held a set-point 24-22 advantage after Twitty inflicted more damage and Nicolette Clark added a kill.
But the Broncos were relentless, withstanding the threat and coming back to tied the game at 24, 25 and 26 before they eventually snagged the opening set by a score of 28-26. Boise State overcame a Lobo effort that managed 15 team kills in that set, with over half of the kills (7) being put down by Twitty.
The second set was another close bout. The Lobos collected the first three points before falling behind again, watching Boise State build a 10-5 margin and enjoy playing from ahead it pushed the lead to seven points again.
New Mexico fought its way back and fended off two set points with kills from Twitty and Mariessa Carrasco to pull within 24-22 to stay on the Broncos' heels. But Boise State closed things out with a kill of its own from Janell Wally to take set two 25-22.
Victoria Spragg, a middle blocker for the Lobos, totaled three kills in the set, while Carly Beddingfield got up for three blocks against the Boise State attack and Pacheco came up with a team-high four digs.
The third set continued to mirror the manner in which the first two were played — as the teams went down to the wire again. The Lobos stayed within striking range, but seemed to expend a lot of energy as it took all of UNM's hitting power to try to keep pace. Tai Bierria, an outside hitter for UNM, turned in a standout performance in the final set as she collected four kills in the set, running her match total to seven.
Bierria’s fourth kill was the final point the Lobos registered as a team, making the score 24-21 at the time. But New Mexico was unable to hold off any more match points, as Boise State tallied the next point to take the set 25-21 and earn a 3-0 victory over UNM.
Despite the loss, head coach Jeff Nelson said he was not disappointed in the Lobo’s performance.
“It was a very well fought and exciting match,” Nelson said in a release. “We had good performances from our middles and also Mercedes Pacheco in her first full match as libero.”
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Nelson expressed that the team needed to alleviate the “lulls” that occur in their play during the match and step on the court strong for every set.
“Unfortunately with all the [sets] being tight, we missed a couple key opportunities,” Nelson said following the loss. “I thought the energy was good and we can build on it.”
The Lobos return to action Sept. 26 at 7 p.m., and will likely be looking to be "lull-free" when they host the University of Las Vegas.
Alanie Rael is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers volleyball, hockey and track and field, but also contributes content for football. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @AllyRael.