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Lobos outside hitter Kali Wolf (#10) goes up for the ball in a match against Abilene Christian University on Saturday, Aug. 27.

UNM volleyball wrangled in close match with Wyoming Cowgirls

The University of New Mexico volleyball team played the University of Wyoming Cowgirls on Thursday, Sept. 29 in their third game of conference play. The game lasted all five sets with the Cowgirls ultimately winning the match 3-2.

The Lobos led the Cowgirls in total points scored, but they were unable to win the match after falling 2-0 to start the match. They rallied back to force a fifth set after 10 ties and five lead changes.

Kaitlynn Biassou led the team in scoring with 31 points and also had a team high 26 kills. Melissa Walden had 52 assists and 17 digs. Avital Joloba led the team in blocks with seven.

UNM got off to a slow start with the first two points of the set going to the Cowgirls. UNM managed to gain possession off a Bissaou kill, but a Corrin Carruth spike put the Cowgirls up 7-4.

The Lobos were able to go on a run with Joloba behind the serve to cut the lead to 1, but the Cowgirls answered right back, forcing UNM to call a timeout down 12-8.

Out of the timeout, UNM scored but gave possession right back to Wyoming, where they went on a 7-4 run. The Lobos then called their second timeout. At set point, Wyoming’s Kasia Partyka served, and the set ended with a Uxue Guereca error. Wyoming won the first set 25-18 and took the lead in the match 1-0.

The second set started off with Lobos’ Alena Molden at the serve. The Lobos were able to get some momentum with an early 3-0 lead. Wyoming was able to keep it close and tied the game 6-6 with a Tereza Garza spike. With the game tied 18-18, UNM took the lead after Garza hit the ball out of bounds.

The Cowgirls tied the game 23-23 and took the lead with Naya Shime attacking the ball. Shime got another kill to win the set 26-24. Wyoming was up in the match 2-0.

Partyka started the third set serving, and the Cowgirls were able to score the first point of the set with a Kayla Mazzocca and Shime block. UNM went on a 4-0 run highlighted by two Kali Wolf kills. 

UNM continued the run with Guereca scoring; Wyoming called a timeout down 10-6. UNM was able to add to their lead, and Wyoming called another timeout now down 13-7. Biassou had back-to-back spikes to put the Lobos up by 9. UNM won the set 25-12 and went into the fourth set down 2-1 in the game.

The fourth set started with UNM’s Molden serving and going on a 4-0 run. Wyoming went on a run of their own and tied the game 6-6. UNM called a timeout down 10-6.

The 9-0 Wyoming  run ended with a Partyka serving error. Guereca tied the game 11-11 on a kill. Bissaou tapped it over the net to go up 16-13, and Wyoming called a timeout.

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Biassou had a serving ace to go up 19-15, and Wolf had a kill to put them up by 5. At match point, the Lobos had Guereca serve an ace to win the set 25-20 tying the game 2-2.

With the game on the line, Biassou scored the first point of the set and followed it up with an ace. The Cowgirls — fighting for the win — came back to cut the lead, but were still down 10-9.

Wyoming called a timeout down 13-10. The Cowgirls went on a run to tie the game, and Carruth had an ace to put the game in match point. UNM called a timeout now down 14-13. Both teams refused to give in, tying the game four times. With UNM up 18-17, head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar challenged a call which would have given UNM the win, but the call stood, tying the game 18-18.

Wolf had a kill to set up UNM’s win, but the Cowgirls again tied it up. Carruth had a spike to put the Cowboys up, but it was followed by a Garza serving error. The teams tied the game two more times. Shime had a kill to set up the Cowgirls’ sixth match point. The Cowboys challenged a call that was overturned, winning the set 24-22 and the match 3-2.

After the game, Newman-Gonchar gave credit to the Cowboys, but he was also disappointed with how the game ended on a challenge.

“This team is the best 5-10 team I’ve seen. They’re very strong: they got attackers, they can move the ball around, they got a good setter, good servers … but when it matters — in the fifth set and you’re down two and you think the challenge should have gone your way — that’s what it comes down to,” Newman-Gonchar said.

The volleyball team faces the Colorado State University Rams on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 1:00 p.m. in Johnson Center.

Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10

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