The University of New Mexico volleyball team beat San Diego State University 3-0 in their last home match of the season at Johnson Center on Saturday, Nov. 13. The Lobos had suffered three losses in a row prior to Saturday but turned it around against the Aztecs, making their record now 18-9 and 9-7 in conference play.
“It was a challenging week for us … We had to go through some adversity,” head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar said. “Every time you go through some adversity you learn who you really are, and what you really value. It was great to see them (work) together (to beat) this very good San Diego State team. I’m just very proud of our group.”
UNM badly needed this win to hang onto the sixth seed in the Mountain West Conference and to consequently keep their season going into the conference tournament. Newman-Gonchar was emotional about his team’s season so far.
“I think we had an amazing season. I think everyone started (strong) from day one. The commitment of these athletes turned out to be something special this year,” Newman-Gonchar said. “You take wins; you take losses. The fact is we’re going to get better each and every day and we’re pretty proud of ourselves. That’s what happened this year.”
San Diego State managed to keep the first two sets close, with the Lobos just winning 25-23 both times, but UNM completely took over the third match, winning handily 25-13. The Aztecs averaged a .123 kill percentage while the Lobos averaged .302 by the end of the match.
Outside hitter Uxue Guereca took over with 12.5 points, a .545 kill percentage and seven digs against San Diego State. Alongside Guereca, middle blocker Avital Jaloba scored 11.5 points with a .833 kill percentage and three total blocks.
“We saw a lot from Avital, from Uxue, a lot from Kate (Biassou). You can’t just do one — our setter got better; our libero keeps growing. The whole team keeps getting better and better,” Newman-Gonchar said.
Outside hitter Biassou, who has been a critical player all season, ended the game with 8.5 points and a -.103 hit percentage. She has a total average of .254 kill percentage for this season so far.
Biassou praised her team and said it was every player’s contribution that led to their big win.
Regarding the season overall, she said the Lobos win against Colorado State University in October stood out amongst the rest of the matches as CSU had come into the match as the No. 1 team in the Mountain West Conference. Although they expected an easy win, the Lobos proved them wrong.
“Beating Colorado State (was my favorite moment),” Biassou said. “They’re a really big school and a big program. I feel like we came in with so much energy and confidence and we wanted to win. I think everyone underestimated us a little bit.”
The Lobos have two more away games to finish their regular season. They play the United States Air Force Academy on Nov. 16 and California State University, Fresno on Nov. 20. If they hang onto the sixth seed or better in the Mountain West Conference, they will continue their season at the Mountain West Women’s Volleyball Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada from Nov. 24-26.
Annya Loya is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @annyaloya