Lobos Earn Big Win in Sweep at CSU
FORT COLLINS, Colo.— There were plenty of reasons to celebrate on Thursday evening at Moby Arena.
For just the second time in program history, the Lobos went into Fort Collins and swept the Rams, taking down the third-place team in the Mountain West standings in straight sets 25-21, 25-17, 26-24. The last time the Lobos achieved the feat: Oct. 14, 1989. In doing so, head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar also earned his 50th win at the helm of the Lobos.
Three Lobos finished with double-digit kills, led by 13 from Uxue Guereca and 11 each from Kaitlynn Biassou and Kali Wolf. Guereca and Biassou added another double-double to their season total, making it 14 for Guereca and seven for Biassou.
Melissa Walden led with a match-high 37 assists, adding in three assisted blocks, a kill and a service ace, while Avital Jaloba led with a match-high five assisted blocks and Biassou had four assisted blocks.
From the service line, the Lobos recorded eight service aces with six different Lobos tallying at least one and Alena Moldan and Wolf having two. Moldan also finished with a match-high 18 digs.
While the stat lines between the two teams were close, there were just eight ties in the three sets, with six of them occurring in the third set, and three lead changes. Both teams finished with 44 kills, with UNM outhitting CSU .275 to .246, UNM having one more assist than CSU (41-40), CSU having one more dig than UNM (56-55) and the Lobos having one more total block than the Rams (7.0-6.0).
The Lobos took the early lead in the first set, getting out to a 12-3 advantage with Wolf accounting for four kills and Biassou three. UNM’s lead extended throughout the set, leading 16-8 before CSU cut into the margin at 18-12 and further at 20-18. However, kills by Walden and Guereca kept the Lobos in front. CSU again got within two at 22-20 and 23-21, but the Lobos closed with a kill by Guereca and a Ram attack error to win the first set 25-21.
Wolf opened the match with five kills, followed by four by Guereca as the Lobos outhit CSU .341 to .209 and outblocked the Rams 3.0-0.0.
New Mexico again took the lead in the second set, scoring the first two points of the set that expanded to 6-2 on a Biassou ace. CSU responded to tie the set at six, but UNM answered right back with a 4-0 run on a Ram bad set, two Guereca kills and a Wolf service ace. Another 4-0 allowed UNM to lead 14-7, with the lead stretching to eight at 16-8 on a Walden ace. The Rams climbed back to within three at 16-13, at which point, Guereca answered with a kill to keep the gap from closing any further. A Wolf kill and a bad set for CSU created a six-point cushion at 20-14 and a late 3-0 Lobo run pushed the Lobos to set point at 24-16. CSU fought it off once before Walden and Jaloba combined for a block for the set win.
The tie at six-all was the only tie of the set, with the Lobos never relinquishing the lead in the set.
UNM’s momentum carried into the third set, with two kills by Biassou and a Guereca ace giving the Lobos a 3-0 lead. The Lobos continued to hold the lead until 11-all, at which point there were ties at 12, 13 and 14 before a bad set gave UNM back the lead. Of note, there was a successful challenge by UNM on the play that reversed the score. The score remained tight with CSU tying the score at 20 after UNM took a 20-18 lead, but the Lobos responded with three-straight points on a kill for Wolf, a block by Jaloba and Biassou and a Ram attack error to take the 23-20 lead. The Rams fought off two set points at 24-22 to tie the set at 24, but a Wolf kill and Guereca kill closed the set and the match with the Lobos prevailing 26-24.
Biassou finished with six kills in the third set, with Guereca hitting .714 on five kills, zero errors and seven attacks, and Wolf with four kills.
With the win, the Lobos improve to 15-10 on the season and 6-9 in the MW. Up next, the Lobos head to Wyoming for a match on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT.