Open Announce

UNM Volleyball Adds Four for 2022 Class

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— New Mexico head volleyball coach Jon Newman-Gonchar and staff have announced the addition of four student-athletes to the 2022 class.

The Lobos add two middle blockers, a libero and an outside hitter to the 2022 roster, with a diverse background. Joining the Lobos is a player from the state of Virginia in Lauryn Payne, one from Texas in Kailee Gims, one from Switzerland in Lea Zurlinden and an Albuquerque native in Sydney Moore.

“We are thrilled to add this incredible recruiting class to our program,” stated Newman-Gonchar. “Not only are they great players, but they are great people, and great students as well – from as far away as Switzerland and as close as Eldorado High School here in Albuquerque.

“This year’s class is sure to bring fans to their feet.”

KAILEE GIMS | L | 5-7 | Houston, Texas

A libero from Houston, Texas, Gims brings a list of accolades to New Mexico. During her high school career at Cypress Ranch High School, she was a 2019 District 16-6A Honorable Mention, named the 2020 District 16-6A Defensive Player of the Year, named to the 2020 Prep Volleyball Fall American List and the 2021 AVCA All-America Watch List, and was also named to the 2021 AVCA Phenom Watch List, Best and Brightest, and High School All-Region lists.

In addition, Gims broke three school records with the most digs in a game, season and career. She finished with 1820 digs, 257 assists, 62 service aces, 18 total blocks and 165 kills. While lettering all four years in volleyball, her team won the 2018 District 16-6A District and 2021 District 16-6A District championships.

“Kailee was our first commitment of the class,” recalls Newman-Gonchar. “She brings an incredible prep background playing for a standout high school program and elite club volleyball training. One of the reasons she is a top libero is that she is incredibly fast, has a great court awareness, and is a truly tenacious competitor.”

Gims was named the best defensive player for her Houston Skyline club team, a top-10 team in the nation, finishing as the dig leader.

In the classroom, Gims was on the AB honor roll all four years, earned a 6.3 GPA (on a 6.0 scale) and intends to major in business at UNM.

On why UNM, Gims noted, “I choose UNM because of the welcoming coaching staff that they have. I also wanted to play volleyball at the next level and UNM is allowing me to do so.”

SYDNEY MOORE | MB | 6-3 | Albuquerque, N.M.

The next Lobo is a local talent, who comes from a family of Lobos.

Moore will be the sixth member of her family to attend UNM, joining her brother who currently attends, her paternal grandparents, dad and aunt.

“Sydney is a very special local homegrown player,” notes Newman-Gonchar. “She is the perfect combination of height, physicality, and an incredibly cerebral middle blocker. She is a true student of the game, soaking up as much as she can in her pursuit to being the best she can be. We are thrilled to have Sydney continue her amazing family legacy of Lobos.”

While at Eldorado, Moore earned second all-district, fourth all-metro team and was named to the first all-district team as was named a team captain.

Her sophomore season, she recorded 91 kills, 64 total blocks (23 solo), 16 digs and five service aces and as a senior, increased her kill total to 155, her digs to 58 and her hitting percentage to .226.

Beyond her ability on the court, Moore was elected class president her freshman and sophomore years and was the student body secretary. She is also the vice president of the Spanish National Honor Society, secretary of the Key Club and a member of the National Honor Society with a 4.33 GPA and ranked fifth in her graduating class.

She has played for the Albuquerque Rebel Volleyball Club teams ARVC Adidas 18N1, ARVC Adidas 17N1, ARVC Adidas 16N1, and ARVC Adidas 15N1.

As to why New Mexico, Moore notes, “I fell in love with the school and the volleyball program. I have lived in New Mexico most of my life and have watched how Coach Jon (Newman-Gonchar) has been building the New Mexico volleyball community and I wanted to be a part of that. I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to achieve my dream of playing a sport I love for my hometown.”

LEA ZURLINDEN | MB | 5-10 | Wünnewil, Fribourg, Switzerland

Our most well-traveled Lobo, Zurlinden comes to Albuquerque from Wünnewil, Fribourg, Switzerland and plays in the highest Swiss league.

“Lea brings with her incredible playing experience,” Newman-Gonchar said. “Currently representing her senior national team as a middle blocker, and playing for one of the top clubs in her home country, we are ecstatic to add her talents to the Lobo front line next season. Her ability to score points at the net is truly remarkable, both in front of and behind the setter as well as an elite server.”

As Newman-Gonchar noted, Zurlinden currently plays middle blocker for Volley Düdingen as well as on the Swiss national team. As part of the national team, Zurlinden recently played in the CEV EuroVolley and European Championship.

For Zurlinden, “I chose UNM because of the good volleyball program, as well as the cultural aspect of the school and New Mexico itself.”

LAURYN PAYNE | OH | 5-11 | Leesburg, Virginia

Last but not least, the final Lobo in the 2022 class comes to UNM as an outside hitter from Virginia that the coaching staff has anticipated her arrival on campus for some time.

“Lauryn is a player we have had on our radar for the last 18 months,” said Newman-Gonchar. “She is a pure athlete that brings a high-flying, hard-hitting style of play to the Lobo offense. What makes her unique is her never ending approach to become the best she is capable of becoming. We know that she will continue the legacy of incredible outside hitters in our program.”

Like Gims, Payne was named to the AVCA Phenom List. Another notable achievement for the Lobo is being a member of the 10-foot club with a 10’ 3” approach jump.

As to why New Mexico, Payne mentioned several factors, “The coaching staff is passionate, driven, and is going to win the Mountain West Conference. They have established a tight-knit program full of support for one another. New Mexico itself is a diverse, culturally abundant city with lots to offer. New Mexico is a place I can confidently say feels like home, and it will push me to become the best version of myself.”