For nearly 10 years the Lobos have geared up against former UNM volleyball athletes to start the season. For the first time since 2006, though, New Mexico fans will not get to see an exhibition match against the Lobo alumnae. However, head coach Jeff Nelson said UNM fans will be in for a treat this evening during Fan Appreciation Night, with first serve scheduled for 6:30 p.m. He said the free-admission event will showcase some talented play in the intrasquad match, followed by post-game autographs from the 2015 roster.
New Mexico’s three starting spots for outside hitter are up for grabs. Head volleyball coach Jeff Nelson said junior Cassie House is the front-runner to fill Chantale Riddle’s big shoes on the right side. However, Nelson said nothing is set in stone, and each of the five outside hitters has a real shot at claiming the position. House, along with fellow juniors Julia Warren and Devanne Sours, is a returning starter from last year’s big hitting position. While Warren switched to libero mid-season, where she earned first team All-Conference honors, she will likely return to her natural position above the net.
New Mexico will sport a completely different look this year than in recent years. After five years, UNM’s dominant right side hitter Chantale Riddle had her NCAA eligibility expire and the volleyball team must find a new identity. A season ago, Riddle was chasing two prestigious milestones in UNM history.
After a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Mountain West last year, New Mexico head coach Jeff Nelson said his volleyball squad may be deeper than ever heading into the 2015 campaign. The Lobos began fall practices Wednesday morning with the first two-a-day practice of the season. Nelson scheduled two practices almost every day in order to get his squad ready for the season opener at the Ball State tournament beginning on August 28. “We really only lost one position, and we have six returning starters,” Nelson said. “... I think, overall, it’s a better group.”
New Mexico volleyball has its sights on the NCAA tournament this season. After releasing the 2015 schedule on Friday, head coach Jeff Nelson said he devised the schedule with the vision of a playoff run, without needing to win the conference. “It’s always the goal to win the conference,” Nelson said. “But scheduling like this, it gives us an opportunity to get a second or third (place) team into the postseason, if we can do well.”
New Mexico’s newest sport makes for an enticing lure for potential recruits to UNM’s volleyball program. Head coach Jeff Nelson and assistant head coach Lisa Beauchene are heading the sand volleyball program, which Nelson has taken on in addition to his duties indoors. Beauchene said the sand play appeals to a broader range of potential players. “It’s a way for us to get an edge on some of the teams that are very good programs,” Beauchene said. “It really complements our weather here, and brings some interest from the northern states and the east where maybe they don’t have that opportunity.”
Questions and excitement surround New Mexico’s newest sport as the first official practice inches near. Sand volleyball will hold its opening practice on Feb. 9, and head coach Jeff Nelson said his team has shown a lot of enthusiasm at open gym sessions in preparation for the inaugural season. Even with an upbeat group of players, UNM has not yet confirmed where it will host the home games, although Nelson said he foresees his team hosting games at the Stoneface courts located on Paseo Del Norte and I-25.
There is a new leader at the peak of the Mountain West record books. In a three-set sweep over Air Force by the scores of 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, Chantale Riddle collected 22 kills ending her UNM career with 1,623 total kills beating out previous record holder Kim Turner who had 1,619.
In the space of just seven days Chantale Riddle has climbed to the top of the record books with two prestigious New Mexico volleyball records. With 18 kills on Nov. 8, Riddle became New Mexico’s all-time leader in points, and on Saturday Riddle ascended to claim sole possession of UNM’s kill throne. Both records were held by Lobo alumnae Tania Gooley.
The history books will have to be rewritten for New Mexico’s volleyball program. With 1,838 kills, redshirt senior Chantale Riddle took sole possession of UNM’s points record during the Lobos’ 3-1 victory over San Diego State (11-13, 6-7 MW) Saturday from Tania Gooley, UNM’s previous point leader (1,818). The right side hitter seemed shocked after breaking the record at home, in front of the previous kill record holder and the team’s fans.
Chantale Riddle added yet another accomplishment to her list of achievements throughout her tenure at New Mexico. The All-American said she was surprised, but not completely shocked at receiving the Sports Imports/AVCA Division 1 National Player of the Week, on Tuesday.
A slow start didn’t prevent Jeff Nelson from obtaining his 150th win as head coach for the New Mexico volleyball team. UNM (14-9, 6-4 MW) outhit San Jose State (3-19, 0-9 MW) in every single match. However, the Lobos couldn’t find a way to grab a lead for the entire first set, dropping the match 25-23. The Lobos rebounded and went on to win the game 3-1.“In the first game we didn’t really come out strong,” sophomore outside hitter Cassie House said. “We all got our priorities together and made sure everyone was focused on the game plan and just pulled it together.”
Despite a rocky second set, the New Mexico volleyball team maintain a perfect record against Nevada.A handful of UNM’s sororities and fraternities came out to support the New Mexico volleyball team, which head coach Jeff Nelson said added a lot of flare to his squad at the start of the match.“Greek night was really great,” Nelson said.
Leaving past performances in the rear view mirror is what the New Mexico volleyball team hopes will get it back on track.In a 3-0 sweep against New Mexico State (11-8, 5-2 WAC), the Lobos snapped a four-match losing streak with one of their better offensive performances of the season, hitting above .225 in each of the three sets.
Head coach Jeff Nelson is searching for solutions to the New Mexico volleyball team’s recent struggles. UNM (11-9, 4-4 Mountain West) is on a four-match losing streak, and the unit’s recently faltering play is baffling Nelson.“I don’t really have answers right now,” Nelson said following a 3-1 loss to Wyoming (16-5, 5-3 MW) on Saturday.
New Mexico had some bright spots against No. 6 Colorado State, despite being swept.Freshman defensive specialist Stephanie Chavez wound up with 16 digs, the game-high. Chavez said she was exited at the opportunity to help her team out in a big match against CSU (19-1, 7-0 MW).
The New Mexico volleyball team must venture on, for the time being, despite losing a key position player in redshirt junior setter Hannah Johnson.Head coach Jeff Nelson said Johnson will not be jumping against No. 6 Colorado State (18-1 6-0 MW) due to an high ankle sprain. The setter will still see playing time, but not in the customary front row.
Head coach Jeff Nelson has been shifting around his lineup all year in hopes to send a message to the UNM volleyball team to play better.Before conference play, Cassie House had a low .100 hitting percentage that Nelson said was uncharacteristic of the second-year outside hitter.
In the final game of the SMU Invite, New Mexico head coach Jeff Nelson said immaturity played a factor in the team’s only loss of the tournament.
For the New Mexico volleyball team, winning against quality teams is a necessity to prevent missing the national tournament like the squad did a year ago.Last season, UNM finished second in the Mountain West with a 24-7 record (14-6 MW), but failed to make the postseason due to the weakness in competition.