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Volleyball: Lobos first place in conference after pair of wins

In the past week, the UNM Lobo volleyball team was victorious over two Mountain West Conference teams, moving the Lobos to number one in conference ranking.

Thursday’s game against the University of Nevada Wolf Pack resulted in a close five matches that resulted in the Lobos winning 15-4 in final set.

In the first (25-14) and third (25-17) sets, the Lobos came onto the court powerful. The team showed the determination they lacked in the second (13-25) and fourth (21-25) sets. The team gave up a total of 14 serving error points to the Wolf Pack throughout the match, but put down 57 hard-hitting kills against UNLV.

Leading UNM in hits was outside hitter Lauren Twitty, who brought down 19 balls. At the end of the match, UNM head coach Jeff Nelson said he was proud of the team’s performance, but admits the team still needs some work.

“I wish we would have blocked a little better. I like our kill number and I’m happy we won,” Nelson said, “I want us to play a little more consistent. So now we have to go into practice and work on the things we can control.”

Nelson hoped to enter Saturday’s game against San José State with a consistent three sets to win the game. Fortunately for UNM, that’s exactly what happened.

Saturday’s win against the Spartans gave UNM a 5-1 record in the Mountain West Conference and an 11-7 record for the season. The Lobos showed up to prove that they were a contender as a team in the conference and that they could bring a win home in only three sets.

In the first set of the match, the Lobos played the entire match with a lead over the Spartans, even having a 12-point lead at one point of the set. The Lobos finished the set with a solo block from sophomore Nicolette Clark, who ended the first set with a 13-point lead, 25-12.

UNM started the second set with a closer game than the first, but the Lobos were determined to win the second set after having an inconsistent track record of second sets throughout the season.

The Spartans put up a touch and go set throughout the second but in the end, the Lobos pulled forward, ending it 25-19. Twitty slammed down five kills for the Lobos while the team pulled in together for a total of 12 assists.

Leading with two sets, the Lobos entered another tight set as the Spartans fought for a lead but Lobo’s Clark brought kill after kill for the team along with kills from Twitty and junior Tai Bierria. The Lobo’s finished the game with a 25-22 score at the end of the set.

The Lobos put up impressive stats against SJS, putting up a total of 38 kills, six aces, 35 assists and 47 digs. Leading the team was Twitty with 12 kills and 14 digs alone.

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Twitty currently leads the team in kills.

"I think that we have grown as a group," Nelson said, "They are playing better, pulling together better, and staying in the moment much better. We talk about that all the time.

The Lobo coach was concerned about how the news of Fresno loss would distract the players but was thrilled of the composure the women kept and the final outcome of Saturday’s efforts.

“They handled it great so I'm hoping that's how we will handle it moving forward. Just play good ball and be excited about what we are doing,” Nelson finished.

The Lobos hope to ride this winning momentum into their upcoming game against San Diego State. The Lobos play in San Diego, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. Mountain Time.

Alanie Rael is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @AllyRael.

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