Lobos Close Out Home Schedule with UNLV and SDSU
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.– The Mountain West volleyball season is winding down and the conference-standing watch is picking up.
The New Mexico volleyball team hosts UNLV on Thursday, Nov. 11 and San Diego State on Saturday, Nov. 13 for its final two home matches of the season, and there’s plenty left to play for for the Lobos.
UNM hosts UNLV with both teams entering the week tied for fourth in the MW standings at 8-6, and have identical overall records of 17-8. On Saturday, the Lobos will honor four seniors on Senior Day prior to the match. In addition, UNLV has gone 3-3 in the last six matches and 5-5 since the teams first met to start October. SDSU enters the final two weekends of conference play 4-10 in the MW, but did split its matches last weekend with a five-set win over UNLV and a five-set loss at Fresno State.
The Lobos split their first matches with UNLV and San Diego State with a four-set win over SDSU and a four-set loss to UNLV, both on the road. New Mexico lost in four sets at UNLV in the first meeting with Kaitlynn Biassou leading with 14 kills and four service aces for the Lobos. All-time, UNM is 18-27 against UNLV, 10-13 at home.
For New Mexico, the Lobos are coming off two losses on last week’s road trip to Boise State and Utah State. However, UNM is 9-2 at home this season, with the last time the Lobos having nine home wins in a season being 2016 when the Lobos went 9-7.
The recipe for success this week is for UNM to stay true to its identity and as head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar has repeatedly said, “reset and respond.” Biassou and Guereca will play a large part of that has recorded at least 10 kills in 14 of the last 18 matches and has 10-plus kills in 16 of the 25 matches this season and 20-plus kills in three matches. The Reno, Nev., native is second in the MW in kills per set (4.06), points (236.0) and points per set (4.72) and third in kills (203) in conference matches. She is also sixth in service aces per set (0.36). For Guereca the outside hitter has had 14 matches with 10-plus kills.
Since the Lobos and Rebels last met, UNLV has gone 5-5, with wins over Wyoming (3-2), San Diego State (3-0), Fresno State twice (3-0 and 3-1) and Utah State (3-0). The Rebels dropped both matches to Boise State in five sets, a loss to Colorado State in three and a loss to San Diego State and Utah State in five sets. On the year, the Rebels are 9-4 in three sets, 6-0 in four sets and 2-4 in five sets. UNLV is 6-5 on the road this year.
Mariena Hayden leads the Rebels in kills (345, 4.11 per set) and service aces (59), with Arien Fafard leading in assists at 479 (5.15 per set). Lauryn Burt is closely behind in assists with 457 and 4.91 per set. Shelby Capllonch has accounted for a team-high 269 digs. Jordyn Freeman holds the team high in blocks at 97.0 total, with eight solo and 89 assisted, an average of 1.08.
UNLV is 26th in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.266), 31st in team service aces (162) and 35th in aces per set (1.74). Mariena Hayden leads the NCAA in aces per set and total service aces, and is 16th in points per set.
Since UNM and SDSU had its match, the Aztecs went 3-8 with wins over Air Force (3-0), Boise State (3-0) and UNLV (3-2). This season, SDSU is 6-9 in three sets, 0-5 in four sets and 1-5 in five sets. Three of the last four matches for SDSU have been five sets. SDSU is 4-8 on the road.
Victoria O’Sullivan leads the Aztecs in kills (340) while also second in total blocks (48.0, seven solo), while Noa Miller has a team-high 421 assists (6.01 per set). Ashley Vanderpan is second on the team in assists with 337 (4.75 per set), and is tied with Miller in service aces at 14. Five Aztec players have 10-plus aces on the year. Natalie Smith leads the team in digs at 349. Julia Haynie leads in total blocks at 52.0 (seven solo, 41 assisted).
San Diego and UNM have a long history dating back to 1976, with the Aztecs holding a 44-22 advantage in the series. UNM is 9-16 in three sets, 10-15 in four sets and 3-12 in five sets.
In the last meeting, UNM won its first match against the Aztecs since Nov. 19, 2016 (a span of eight matches) and the for the first time in San Diego since Oct. 31, 2009. Biassou, Uxue Guereca and Kali Wolf combined for 35 kills led by Biassou’s 13. Guereca and Wolf each finished with 11 kills, with Guereca hitting an efficient .526 (11-1-19) and Wolf adding four service aces and four digs to her tally. Melissa Walden contributed a double-double with 27 assists and a team-high 10 digs and Emma Smith was a force at middle blocker with six assisted blocks.