Lea Zurlinden Named MW Freshman of the Week
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The University of New Mexico volleyball team earned its first Mountain West weekly conference honor of the season, and that accolade belongs to freshman Lea Zurlinden, who was named MW Freshman of the Week on Monday.
Zurlinden started all three matches in the UC San Diego Tournament and played in all 13 sets, with the middle blocker finishing with 21 kills, 11.0 total blocks and 29.0 points in the tournament. Additionally, Zurlinden led the Lobos in hitting percentage at .390 (21-5-41).
The Switzerland native had her best match as a Lobo in the win at UCSD with 10 kills, hitting. 467 and with five total blocks (one solo). In the first set of the match against UCSD, Zurlinden had back-to-back kills that put UNM up 22-21 and extended the lead to 23-21, as well as a solo block that gave UNM the final point in the 25-21 win. With UNM trailing 18-14 in the third set, the Lobo had a kill, an assisted block and a kill in a run that brought UNM within one at 20-19. UNM went on to win set 25-22 with Zurlinden a perfect 4-for-4 in kills and had an assisted block in the set. In the decisive fifth set, the freshman contributed an assisted block (10-7 UNM) and a kill (11-8 UNM) as the Lobos won 15-12.
On Saturday against Liberty, Zurlinden had six kills, three assists, two service aces and four total blocks in the reverse sweep of the Flames. In the third set, she had an assisted block (2-1 UNM), a kill (8-6 UNM) and another kill that stretched the lead to six at 16-10, and had a kill in the fourth set as part of the 4-0 run that brought UNM within one at 14-13 with UNM ultimately completing the comeback to extend the match.
Zurlinden continued to step up in big moments, as in the fourth set, the middle blocker had an assisted block that put UNM up 21-20 and in the fifth set had an assisted block that put UNM up 6-4 and a service ace that gave UNM match point.
In the first match of the tournament against Pacific, Zurlinden had a kill (22-15 UNM), assisted block (23-15 UNM) and assisted block (25-21 UNM) in the first set, in the second set against the Tigers, had a kill that put UNM up 15-14 and a kill that put UNM up 23-21 in the 25-21 set win, and in the third set, tallied a kill that gave UNM match point at 24-22.
The Lobos went 3-0 in the tournament to improve to 7-1 on the season and have won their last four matches. UNM returns to the court on Wednesday, Sept. 14 against Northern Arizona with first serve set for 6:30 p.m. in Johnson.