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Lobos Complete Sweep of Lumberjacks Following Friday Five-Set Battle

by Allison Weiss

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— Friday night’s match against Northern Arizona was not for the faint of heart, with the Lobos and Lumberjacks combining for 52 ties and 25 lead changes in the five sets, three of which needed extra points to decide.

In the end, UNM emerged victorious, winning the first set, third set and fifth set in the 27-25, 22-25, 27-25, 20-25, 16-14 score.

Kali Wolf registered her fourth-straight double-double and fifth on the season with 15 kills and 19 digs, while Kaitlynn Biassou finished with 20-plus kills for the second-straight match and third time this season after tallying 21 against NAU. Avital Jaloba set a career high in kills with 15, hitting .407, and added four assisted blocks.

Alena Moldan moved into sixth all-time in career digs following her 22 dig performance, giving the senior co-captain 1,216 in her time as a Lobo.

The Lobos had eight service aces in the match, led by three for Wolf and two for Biassou, and had 11.5 total blocks led by Lea Zurlinden’s seven assisted blocks.

New Mexico got out to a 10-5 lead in the opening set, but a 6-1 run allowed NAU to tie the set at 11. The set was back-and-forth from there with ties at 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 21 before the Lobos gained the slight edge at 23-21 on consecutive kills by Biassou. The Lumberjacks evened the score at 23 and then reached set point on a ball handling error. However, a Biassou kill fought it off and after another NAU set point, Biassou again answered to keep the set going. A Jaloba kill gave UNM its first set point and Arianna Jamerson ended the set with a kill at 27-25 after an unsuccessful challenge by NAU. Biassou finished with seven kills in the first set and Jaloba finished with six, hitting .625.

There were a total of 12 ties and five lead changes in the first set.

A 4-0 run by NAU put the home team up 8-5 but Lobos went on a 5-0 run to tie the set at 11 and take a 12-11 lead on an Elizabeth Woods and Zurlinden block. Northern Arizona held a 15-13 lead at the media timeout, but the Lobos chipped away to tie the set at 17 on a Zurlinden and Wolf block. NAU pulled ahead 22-19, although a 3-0 Lobo run tied the set at 22 following back-to-back combined blocks by Woods and Jaloba. Out a NAU timeout, the Lumberjacks won the next three points to win the set and evened the match at one.

The third set was closely contested with 17 ties and 11 lead changes. Northern Arizona took the early 3-1 lead, but the Lobos closed the gap to tie the set at four and took a 5-4 lead on a Jaloba kill. There were nine ties before NAU again led 15-13 at the media timeout. Out of the break, a Biassou kill and NAU attack error created another tie with Biassou giving the Lobos a 16-15 lead on an ace. Trailing 23-21, the Lobos fought back with a Jaloba kill and NAU attack error to tie the set, and continued to show their fight facing set point at 24-23. An attack error tied the set at 24, and facing another set point at 25-24 benefitted from a service error to extend the set. UNM closed the set with a Zurlinden and Wolf block and a Zurlinden and Jamerson block to win the set 27-25.

There were nine ties in the first 22 points of the fourth set before the Lumberjacks created some separation at 14-11. UNM cut the gap down to one on a Jaloba kill and NAU attack error and later cut a 20-16 deficit down to one at 20-19 on a 5-1 run, but couldn’t find the tying point in a 25-20 loss to send the match to five sets.

UNM got out to a 5-2 lead in the fifth set, with the Lobos holding a three-point lead at 8-5 as the teams switched sides. The Lobos led 10-7 before the Lumberjacks rallied to tie the set at 11. A Biassou kill tied the set at 13 before Jaloba gave UNM match point at 14-13 on a kill. A service error prolonged the match, although temporarily as a Wolf kill provided the second match point and Moldan put the match away with a service ace for the 16-14 score.

Jaloba, Wolf and Biassou each accounted for three kills in the set, with the Lobos hitting .353 in the set, and Biassou and Moldan recording an ace.

With the win, the Lobos’ win streak extended to six matches and enter Mountain West play 9-1. In addition, the Lobos are 9-1 for the first time since 2013.

UNM opens conference at Boise State on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. with the next home match scheduled against Wyoming on Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m.