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UNM Uses Team Effort to Defeat Nevada in Five

RENO, Nev. — It was truly a complete team effort as The University of New Mexico volleyball team earned its first Mountain West Conference win of the season and ended its six-match losing streak on Thursday night at the Virginia Street Gym against the Nevada Wolf Pack.

It took three Lobos finishing with double figures in kills led by a match-high and season-high 20 from senior Lauren Twitty. Freshman Kaitlynn Biassou finished one behind her, hitting a team-high .359 on 39 swings in her return home to Reno and playing in front of friends, family and former teammates.

It took two Lobos recording double-doubles with Jaclyn Inclan leading with a team-high 35 assists to go along with a team-high as well as career-high 26 digs and Tai Bierria’s season-high 17 kills and 11 digs.

At the net, it took career highs in blocks from Abbey Willison, recording nine assisted in her second start at middle blocker, and eight assisted from Yasmin Tan. It also took a season-high 29 assists as well as two service aces from Maddie Freiwald.

Additionally, UNM produced its most kills (73), assists (70), and blocks (17.0) and the second-most digs (79) in a match this season against the Wolf Pack and hit .309 as UNM outlasted Nevada 21-25, 25-22, 24-26, 25-22, 15-9 to move to 6-13 overall, 1-6 in the MW.

The Lobos got stronger offensively as the match unfolded, hitting .250 in the first, .262 in the second, .308 in the third, .361 in the fourth and .444 in the fifth, ultimately outhitting Nevada .309 to .203 in the match.

Nevada, which entered the match tied for third in the MW with a 4-2 conference record and at 14-4 overall, edged out the Lobos in the opening set following 13 ties and five lead changes.

Tan opened the match with a kill but the Wolf Pack answered with the next two points before a Twitty kill tied the set at two. Nevada re-took a lead at 4-2 to which the Lobos tied and took a 5-4 lead on a Nevada attack error. The Lobos built an 8-6 lead on consecutive Bierria kills, however, UNR tied the set back up. There were two more ties at 10 and 11 before UNM used a 4-0 run to take a 14-11 lead. Nevada answered to tie the set at 14 before Willison regained the lead for UNM at 15-14 at the media timeout. Twitty’s sixth kill of the set made it 16-15 for the Lobos but it was soon tied at 16 and a Bierria kill gave UNM its final lead of the set at 17-16 before Nevada tied it at 17 and  took a 21-17 lead. Nevada’s lead pushed out to five at 23-18 when a Bierria kill, a Twitty kill and a Biassou kill brought UNM within two at 23-21 but Nevada would take the first set 25-21.

Twitty led with seven kills in the set, hitting .357 as UNM had 16 total kills in the set and hit .250.

UNM got out to a 2-0 lead in the second set behind a Biassou and Tan block and a Wolf Pack attack error before Nevada tied the set and took a 3-2 lead. The Lobos would answer with a 3-0 run and build the lead to two at 5-3, 6-4 and 7-5 before it would extend to five at 10-5 behind a 4-0 run. The margin would grow to six on back-to-back Danica Rowan kills at 12-6 and again at 16-10 on a Twitty kill, her 10th of the match. Nevada used two service aces to tie the set at 18 after trailing 18-15 and a kill gave the Wolf Pack a 19-18 lead which grew to 20-18 on what would be a 5-0 run. A Bierria kill and Willison ace tied the set at 20 and the Lobos re-tied the set at 21 on a Bierria kill. A Bierria kill, her ninth of the match, regained the lead for the Lobos which extended to two on a Biassou kill, capping a 3-0 run. The Lobos gained set point on a Biassou and Tan block to which the Wolf Pack fought off once before Bierria put the set away on a kill to give the Lobos the 25-22 set win.

There were five ties and four lead changes in the set, with UNM outhitting Nevada .262 to .114 on another 16 team kills. Of the 16 kills, Twitty accounted to four with Rowan and Biassou adding three. Tan teamed up with Twitty twice and Biassou twice to finish with four assisted blocks in the set.

A service error gave UNM the first point of the third set for the Lobo lead for the third straight set but it was another close set early on with ties at one, two, three before Willison and Rowan kills put UNM in front by two. Nevada would tie the set at five but a Bierria kill allowed the Lobos to retake control. After a Tan kill made it 9-7, the Wolf Pack answered to tie the set up before a Biassou kill pushed the Lobos back in front, which grew to three at 12-9. A Willison and Rowan block pushed the lead to four at 14-10, to which the Wolf Pack cut to one before a Twitty kill ended the threat and put UNM ahead 15-13 at the media timeout. The Lobos would build their lead to three at 17-14, to which Nevada would cut to one. Nevada eventually tied the set at 18 and like the second set took a 20-18 lead. A Biassou kill tied the set at 21 and a block by Biassou and Willison tied the set again at 22. A Willison and Rowan block following an unsuccessful Nevada challenge gave UNM a 23-22 lead, but the Wolf Pack tied the set at 23. An ace gave Nevada set point but Willison re-tied the set on a tip that fell over the net and found empty court for the point. Nevada gained another set point on the next play and would win the following point to take the set 26-24.

UNM outhit Nevada .308 to .244 in the frame with 17 kills, four coming from Biassou and Twitty. UNM would add five total blocks in the set with Willison accounting for four and Moldan served up an ace.

For the fourth time in the match, the Lobos opened the set with the opening point, this time on a kill from Tan. However, Nevada would take the next three points before a service error and Tan block tied the set at three. A Twitty solo block put UNM ahead and after six ties, the Wolf Pack ended the exchange of points to go ahead 11-9. The Lobos would respond to tie the set at 11 on kills by Tan and Biassou, and the Lobos would create three more ties before a Rowan and Willison combined block gave UNM the narrow 15-14 lead at the media timeout. Following the timeout, UNR would score the next three points to go back in front and would lead by three at 19-16. UNM closed in on the deficit and pulled within one at 21-20 on a Twitty and Tan block and managed to tie the set on an attack error. A Biassou kill put the Lobos in front, which the Wolf Pack tied the set on the next point. From there, the Lobos scored the next two points on a Biassou kill and a Biassou and Willison block to reach set point and would take the fourth set 25-22 on a Twitty and Willison block.

UNM closed the set on a 7-1 run after trailing 21-18. There was a match-high 15 ties and eight lead changes in the set with the last tie at 22-all and the last lead change at 23-22 on a Biassou kill. Biassou accounted for five kills in the set and hit an efficient .500 (5-0-10) and Freiwald recorded the only Lobo ace in the set.

Entering the match, the Lobos had played in six five-set matches, going just 1-5 in such instances this season. The Lobos left nothing to chance, taking an early lead and not letting up as they won 15-9. Biassou opened up the set with the cross court kill and UNM would go up 2-0 on a Nevada bad set. UNM’s advantage grew to 8-3 as the teams switched sides following blocks by Willison and Bierria and Willison and Rowan, which capped a 3-0 run. Nevada would get three back on the next four points to cut the lead to the closest it would get for the remainder of the set at 9-6 before Rowan and Bierria tallied kills to push the lead back to five at 11-6. The lead would grow to seven at 14-7 on consecutive Biassou kills and after the Wolf Pack fought off two match points, Biassou would put the finishing touch on the match with a final kill for the 15-9 set win and the match.

Biassou closed the match with five final kills on seven swings, hitting .714 in the set. Willison combined with Bierria and Rowan for blocks and Freiwald added a second ace as UNM led from wire-to-wire in the set.

Up next, the Lobos head to San Jose, Calif. to face the San José State Spartans on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT.

UNM’s next home match on Saturday, Oct. 26 against Air Force has been announced as a 10:30 a.m. start time. The match will be held in Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit. Tickets can be purchased HERE.