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Lobos Defeat Falcons in Four Sets

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The University of New Mexico defeated the Air Force Falcons in four sets on Saturday afternoon at the Johnson Center behind stellar blocking from UNM’s middle blockers.

Mariessa Carrasco led the Lobos with nine assisted blocks, followed by Yasmin Tan, who recorded a career-high seven assisted blocks, and Victoria Spragg’s one solo and five assisted blocks. Lauren Twitty had four assisted blocks to go along with her team-high 14 kills.

Jaclyn Inclan and Sabrina Bianco both registered double-digit assists in the match, with 17 and 15, respectively, as the duo accounted for 32 of the team’s 40. Morgan Schreckler recorded the only service ace on the afternoon for the Cherry and Silver, which came in the fourth set. Once again, Mercedes Pacheco led the team in digs with 15, and was the only Lobo player to reach double figures in the category.

The Lobos outhit the Falcons .244 to .216, but it was the visitors who led in kills (58-48), assists (55-40), digs (59-42) and service aces (7-1). UNM was able to make up the difference with a 15-8 edge in total team blocks with one solo and 28 assisted, as well as on the 14 service errors committed by Air Force.

UNM moved to 13-11 overall and 7-5 in the Mountain West with the 26-24, 18-25, 25-22, 25-17 victory, their second win this week. The win also gave the Lobos the season sweep of the Falcons after defeating the Air Force Academy in five sets in September. 

For the seventh time this season, and the first time since Sept. 22 at Boise State, the Lobos needed more than 25 points to determine the set. Air Force scored three of the first five points, with the Lobos’ only points coming on service errors by the Falcons. UNM tied the set at four on kills by Tan and Tai Bierria, but AFA regained the lead on the following point. The Lobos tied the set at five and six, however, each time the Falcons recorded the next point to retake the lead. New Mexico took its first lead of the set at 9-8 with back-to-back assisted blocks by Carrasco and Tan and Carrasco and Twitty, followed by a Carrasco tip that dropped in for a point. The Lobos held onto the lead in the tightly contested set that never deviated from one or two points until the Falcons tied the set again at 15. A kill by Carrasco allowed UNM to go in front 16-15 and a Carrasco and Tan block pushed the lead to two at 17-15, but AFA tallied the next two points to tie the set at 17. From there, there were ties at 18, 19 and 20 before New Mexico gained the 22-20 advantage on a service error and attack error by AFA. The Falcons got within one at 22-21 and 23-22, but a kill by Twitty gave the Lobos set point at 24-22. Air Force was able to fight it off with two blocks to tie the set at 24, which would be the final point for the Falcons. Carrasco and Twitty recorded back-to-back kills to give UNM the first set, 26-24. Twitty led with five kills in the opening set with Inclan tallying five assists. Pacheco and Inclan each had three digs and Carrasco had four of the team’s eight assisted blocks. Air Force outhit UNM .368 to .303 in the set with the 19-13 advantage in kills, but also had seven service errors. There were 11 ties and three lead changes in the first set.

The second set saw seven ties in the first 14 points before UNM strung together consecutive points to go in front 9-7.  A 3-0 run allowed UNM’s lead to extend to 12-8 after kills by Twitty and Carrasco and a Carrasco and Tan block, but Air Force responded with a 4-1 run to pull within one at 13-12. The Lobos were able to regain a two-point margin at 15-13 on a Bierria kill, however, Air Force ultimately tied the set at 15 and took the lead with a service ace on the proceeding point. The Falcons gained a two-point advantage at 18-16 before Spragg tallied the kill to bring the Lobos within one. Air Force used a 6-0 run to go up by seven at 24-17, but a Bierria kill fought off the set point. A service error by the Lobos gave the Falcons the final point to take the 25-18 set and to even the match at one set each.

UNM got out to an early 6-1 lead with three assisted blocks in the third frame. Tan and Spragg combined for two of the stops, while Spragg teamed up with Bierria on the other. Tan and Bierria also each recorded a kill in the early stages of the set to help UNM gain the early edge. UNM’s lead grew to 11-3 before Air Force cut into it with a 5-0 run, including consecutive service aces. Kills by Twitty and Carrasco made it 13-8 in favor of UNM, but another run by the Falcons tied the set at 13-all. After ties at 14 and 15, the Lobos pulled in front 17-15 on a Carrasco kill and Falcon ball handling error, but once again, Air Force responded to tie the set, this time at 17. There would be a final tie at 18, before Bierria tallied the kill to restore the Lobo lead for good. A 3-0 Lobo run with a kill from Inclan and assisted blocks by Carrasco and Twitty and Carrasco and Inclan created a four-point cushion at 23-19. Makayla Tam gave UNM set point at 24-20 with a kill, but Air Force fought it off twice to make it 24-22. Twitty registered her third kill of the set and her 10th of the match, to give the Lobos the 25-22 set win and the 2-1 match lead. UNM outhit Air Force .250 to .111 in the set with three kills each from Twitty, Bierria and Carrasco. Spragg tallied one solo block and four assisted blocks as the Lobos had a 7-2 total team blocks advantage with one solo and 12 assisted blocks in the third set.

Air Force scored the first three points in the fourth set before Bierria registered her ninth kill of the match to put UNM on the board. Air Force pulled ahead 8-4 before UNM answered with a 6-0 run to go in front 10-8.  Air Force scored the next point to cut the margin in half, but UNM recorded five of the next eight points to take a 15-12 lead into the media timeout.  A 4-2 run turned a 15-14 game into a five-point advantage at 19-14, which increased to six at 21-15 on a Falcon attack error. The Lobos’ lead expanded to seven on a Twitty and Carrasco block that made it 23-16, and after a Falcon kill, two straight attack errors by Air Force sealed the set at 25-17 and the match for the Lobos. UNM outhit AFA .290 to .057 in the final set, with five kills from Bierria and four from Twitty. The Lobos had two assisted blocks each from Twitty and Carrasco as UNM also had the advantage at the net at 3-0 in total team blocks. Unlike the previous three sets, there was just one tie in the set at 8-8 and one lead change. 

The Lobos return to the road next week for both of their matches, first playing San José State on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. MT, and Nevada on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. MT.