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Lobos Fall in Five to Broncos in MW Opener

by Allison Weiss

BOISE, Idaho— The Lobo volleyball team forced a fifth set in the Mountain West opener at Boise State, but came up just short in the five-set decision (20-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 9-15).

UNM had three players finish with double-digit kills, led by Uxue Guereca with 16, while Kali Wolf was closely behind at 15 and Kaitlynn Biassou at 13. Biassou’s streak of reaching double-digit kills continued in Thursday’s match to 11, with Wolf’s extending to five matches and Guereca’s to three.

Guereca registered a double-double, her seventh of the season, with a career-high 20 digs, with Alena Moldan finishing with a match- and career-high 32 digs. Anilee Sher also tallied a double-double, her second of the season, following a match-high 40 assists to go with 13 digs.

Wolf nearly added another double-double with eight digs in the match, but found success at the service line with a career-high six service aces.

The Lobos got out to a 6-3 lead that the Broncos answered to tie the set. Following a tie at nine, the Broncos began to pull away with a 6-1 run to lead 15-10 at the media break. The Lobos chipped away at the deficit with a 3-0 run on a BSU service error, a Guereca kill and Wolf ace to force a BSU timeout. UNM pulled within two at 18-16 following another 3-0 run, however, Boise State responded with a 4-0 run before winning the first set 25-20. The Lobos fought off set point three times in the set that had six ties. Biassou led the way with four kills, followed by Guereca’s three, with Wolf providing two service aces.

New Mexico evened the match in the second set, pulling away late on a 5-0 Wolf and Guereca run that started with a Wolf kill that broke the 17-all tie and continued with a Guereca kill, a Wolf service ace, another Guereca kill and a Wolf ace. An exchange of service errors followed by a Guereca kill put the Lobos at set point and after the Broncos fought it off, a BSU service error ended the set 25-20 in favor of UNM.  The second set contained 10 ties and seven lead changes, with Guereca adding five kills and Wolf four kills and three service aces to their totals.

After Boise State took the early lead in the third set, UNM closed the gap to tie the set at 11 and took a narrow 15-14 lead into the media break. The Lobos extended their lead to three at 17-14 with a Guereca kill and Wolf service ace, but BSU went on a run to tie the set at 18 and later took a 21-19 lead. A kill by Biassou and a Biassou and Avital Jaloba block provided another tie, with a final tie at 22 before BSU scored the next two points to reach set point. A kill for Wolf fought off the set point, albeit temporarily as the Broncos took the set 25-23.

UNM outhit BSU .237 to .178 in a set that had nine ties and two lead changes.

Needing to win the fourth set to extend the match, the Lobos took an early 7-2 lead, a lead that extended to six at 17-11 behind a 5-0 run. The Broncos answered to close within two at 20-18 and later tied the set at 21 and then took a 22-21 lead. A Jaloba kill led to another tie and a Bronco attack error, and consecutive Wolf kills pushed the match to five sets with a 25-23 Lobo set win.

The Lobos were as close as 5-3 in the fifth set before the Broncos used a 4-0 run to go ahead 12-5 en route to the 15-9 set score.

New Mexico stands at 9-2 on the season, 0-1 in the MW, and will return to the court on Saturday at 11 a.m. MT at Utah State.