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Lobos Earn Second Sweep of Week in Win Against Fresno State

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Two Mountain West matches to start the season, two sweeps.

The New Mexico Lobos continue to find ways to win, earning their ninth sweep of the season, including the second in two days, and improved to 11-2 overall after defeating Fresno State in straight sets (26-24, 25-14, 25-16) on Thursday night.

UNM held the advantage in kills (41-30), assists (33-29), digs (47-40), service aces (4-2) and blocks (8.0-7.0), while hitting .257 and holding the Bulldogs to just .067, the seventh opponent this season that the Lobos have held under .100 hitting percentage.

Melissa Walden had an all-around solid performance with another double-double, her eighth of the season, that included a match-high 28 assists, 10 digs, four kills, one service ace and one block. Kaitlynn Biassou again led the way with a match-high 12 kills, finishing just one dig shy of a double-double, and her outside hitting counterpart Uxue Guereca had nine kills and 10 digs, tying Walden for the team high. Guereca also had three service aces in the match.

Blocking was rampant in the match, with Emma Smith leading with one solo and four assisted, as the Lobos finished with three solo and 10 assisted, with Guereca and Kali Wolf also recording an assisted block.

The opening set was closely contested with 10 ties and four lead changes, with the Lobos gaining an early 6-2 lead behind two Guereca service aces, a Biassou kill and a Bulldog attack error. UNM’s lead grew to five at 11-6 on a Fresno State service error, but the visitors rallied to tie the set at 11 and take a 12-11 lead. UNM answered with a 4-2 scoring run to take a 16-13 lead on a Walden kill, back-to-back solo blocks by Guereca and Smith and a Biassou kill.

UNM’s lead again expanded to four at 18-14 on a Wolf and Smith block, but the Bulldogs kept closing the gap, ultimately tying the set at 19. There was an exchange of points until 22-all, when a Walden ace gave UNM set point at 24-22. Fresno State fought it off twice to tie the set at 24, but Guereca and Biassou answered to provide the final two points on consecutive kills for the 26-24 Lobo win.

Biassou led with six kills in the first frame, with Guereca adding two aces and Walden accounting for nine assists.

The second set started much of the same with UNM gaining an early lead before Fresno State tied the set at four. However, there were just two ties in the set before the Lobos took control as the Lobos went on a 4-0 scoring run to widen the margin at 10-5 and built the lead to nine on a 4-0 run that made it 17-8. The Lobos scored the final four points of the set to win 25-14, with Smith and Biassou closing the set with a block.

Biassou added four kills to her total in the second set as well as combined with Smith for three blocks.

The third set started with a Smith kill, but it was the Bulldogs who took the lead at 4-2 with the Lobos having to respond, tying the set at four and taking a 6-4 lead on consecutive Jaloba kills and a Wolf kill. After Fresno State closed within one, a 3-0 run kept the Lobos in front 11-7. Fresno State hung close through the midway point of the set, rallying to tie the set at 15, which then spurred an 19-15 Lobo lead on a Biassou kill, a Jaloba and Walden block and two Bulldog attack errors. Consecutive Guereca kills pushed the Lobos to match point at 24-16 and a final  attack error by Fresno State closed the match with the Lobos taking the set 25-16.

Guereca hit .500 in the third set with six kills and no errors, while Walden finished with 11 assists, five digs, a kill and a block assist in the set.

“Really proud to see the Lobos put two really strong performances together against great conference opponents,” head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar said. “The Lobos have been working very hard the last nine days to make sure they were ready for conference and they were ready. We fought through a lot of adversity. We’ve had to change our lineup. At the end of the day, the Lobos came out ready to fight and battle and represent the shield. I’m very proud of this team and excited to get back after it for week two of Mountain West Conference play.”

The Lobos (11-2, 2-0 MW) take their three-match win streak to San Diego State, with first serve set for 8 p.m. MT on Sept. 30. UNM stays on the road to face UNLV on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. before returning home to host Utah State on Oct. 7 at the Johnson Center.