The University of New Mexico volleyball team lost to the Boise State University Broncos 3-2 in the final regular season game at home on Saturday, Nov. 19. Before the match, UNM head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar honored both Lobo and Bronco seniors with flowers, and the fans gave Lobo seniors — Alena Moldan, Avital Jaloba, and Anilee Sher — a standing ovation.
UNM has clinched a spot in the Mountain West conference tournament with their win over Utah State University on Thursday, Nov. 17.
Uxue Guereca led the team in kills with 18. Kaitlynn Biassou had 12 kills and tied with Jaloba for most blocks with 8.
For the Broncos, both Paige Bartsch and Lauren Ohlinger had excellent scoring with each having 21 points.
The Lobos scored the first point of the first set off a successful coach's challenge. The Broncos tied the game 3-3 and took the lead off an Annie Kaminski spike. UNM answered with a 5-0 run that forced Boise to take a timeout down 9-5.
UNM scored out of the timeout by forcing an attack error at the net, but their run was ended by an Ohlinger kill. The Lobos continued to dominate the set: Guereca had a forceful spike to put the Lobos up 15-7. UNM stayed in control, and at set point Guereca had a kill to win the set 25-15 and gave UNM the lead in the match 1-0.
The second set started with UNM getting called for a double hit violation. The Lobos called a timeout down 11-7 to try to stop the Broncos 5-0 scoring run. UNM went on a run to cut into the Broncos lead which forced Boise to call a timeout up 16-11.
The Broncos stayed in front the rest of the set, but the Lobos kept the match competitive. At set point, Bartsch had a kill for the Broncos to win the set 25-16 and tie the match 1-1.
The third set started with an Ashley Hayden ace. The Broncos did not lose any momentum and quickly went up 9-4. The Lobos then called a timeout down 12-6.
UNM erupted out of the timeout for a 6-0 run with Moldan at the serve that tied the set 16-16. Boise called a timeout up 22-21 but stayed in control and won the set off of a Bartsch kill 25-22. The Broncos took the lead in the match 2-1.
The Lobos scored the first points of the fourth set, but the Broncos did not slow down. Bartsch had a dominant spike to put the Broncos up 6-4. UNM did not quit, though, going on a run; Biassou got a block to tie the game up for the Lobos at 10-10. Both teams refused to let the other team pull ahead, tying the game up four times. The Lobos were up 15-14 at the media timeout.
Out of the timeout, UNM went on a 4-0 run to build a lead in the set. Kali Wolf had a kill to establish a set point and Biassou had a block to win the set 25-20 and tie the match 2-2.
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The fifth and final set of the match started with a Hayden ace. UNM tied the game 7-7 after an intense back and forth rally, but the Broncos pulled ahead. The Lobos called a timeout down 10-8.
Wolf then had a kill out of the timeout, and Jaloba had a serving ace to again tie the game for the Lobos. But the Broncos pulled ahead again, and Jordan Miller had a kill to set up match point at 14-12. UNM put up a good effort, but it wasn't enough: the Lobos lost the set 15-12 and the match 3-2.
After the match, Newman-Gonchar previewed the upcoming tournament and gave credit to the departing seniors.
"We're thrilled to have earned the right to play in (the tournament), and I think the reality for us is we've never been a team that is defined by outcomes: we're defined by how our process is and how hard we work … This team has never backed down, and we're going to keep fighting this entire time and I'm excited for this group to go up to Fort Collins and let it rip and play for everything … We're just so grateful that (the seniors have) dedicated their seasons to us and the fact that we get to go out and honor them with our play. We get to go and represent everything that is Lobo volleyball," said Newman-Gonchar.
The Lobos play as the fifth seed in the conference tournament where they will first play Utah State University, a team they just defeated 3-1. They play in Fort Collins, Colorado on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 4:00 p.m.
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10