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UNM Goes 2-0 on the Week with Win at Wyoming

by Allison Weiss

LARAMIE, Wyo.— With the MW schedule winding down, the Lobo volleyball team is fighting to the finish, as New Mexico earned a five-set victory (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 23-25, 15-10) at the UniWyo Sports Complex on Saturday.

Of note, combined with Thursday’s win at Colorado State, it is the first time in program history that the Lobos have won in both Laramie and Fort Collins in the same year. Additionally, with the win, the Lobos move to 16-10 on the season and 7-9 in the Mountain West, currently sitting in a tie for fifth in the conference standings with Nevada with two matches remaining.

Uxue Guereca filled the stat sheet with a match-high 23 kills (tying her career high) and hitting .395, finishing with another double-double (her 15th) on 15 digs and added three total blocks (one solo) and a service ace. Guereca was one of three UNM players to register double-digit kills, joined by Kali Wolf with 11 and Lea Zurlinden with 10.

Wolf matched Guereca with 15 digs for a double-double for her seventh on the season. Melissa Walden was the third Lobo to record a double-double with 42 assists and 13 digs for her third of the season.

Defensively, Alena Moldan led with a team-high 20 digs and Avital Jaloba was a wall at the net, compiling five solo blocks and four assisted blocks for a career high in solo blocks and total blocks. As a team, the Lobos finished with a season-high 18.0 total blocks on 10 solo blocks and 16 assisted, with Kaitlynn Biassou recording three solo and two assisted and Guereca and Zurlinden each having one solo block.

After a tie at 13-all in the first set, the Lobos used a 3-0 run on a Jaloba kill, a Jaloba block and a Jaloba kill to take the 16-13 lead. Wyoming closed within two at 18-16, but a Cowgirl service error and Biassou kill kept the Lobos in the lead, and a Jaloba and Wolf block provided set point before a Wolf kill ended the set in favor of the Lobos, 25-20.

The first set had seven ties and two lead changes as the Lobos outhit the Cowgirls .346 to .136 behind four kills by Zurlinden (4-0-4) and 3.0 total blocks.

Set two was another closely contested set with eight ties and three lead changes with two, 3-0 Lobo runs providing the difference in the set. After a tie at eight, a kill for Zurlinden, a UW attack error and a Jaloba and Biassou block put the Lobos in front, and after Wyoming pulled within one at 12-11, a Jaloba kill, a Guereca kill and another Cowgirl attack error restored a cushion at 15-11. Consecutive kills by Guereca extended the lead to five at 17-12, which grew to six at 19-13 and again at 21-15 on a Zurlinden kill. However, Wyoming closed the gap to two at 21-19 to put pressure on the Lobos, but UNM responded by winning the next four points on a Wolf kill, a block by Jaloba and Wolf, another Wolf kill and a Wyoming attack error for the 25-19 set win.

Guereca accounted for seven of UNM’s 16 kills in the second set, hitting .700 (7-0-10) with Wolf adding four kills and hitting .500 (4-0-8).

While the Lobos were within two several times late in the third set, the Cowgirls pulled out the set win to extend the match at 25-22.

The Lobos won the first three points of the fourth set before Wyoming answered to tie the set at three. There were ties at four, five, six, eight, 10 and 11 before the Cowgirls pulled ahead 15-11. UNM closed within one at 18-17 on a kill by Lauryn Payne, however, Wyoming answered right back to go back up by four at 21-17. UNM had one more answer, climbing back to fight off three set points at 24-23 before Wyoming found the winning point for the 25-23 win.

Wyoming led for the early parts of the fifth set, taking a 6-3 lead after UNM responded to tie the set at three, but the Lobos rallied to tie the set at seven and took an 8-7 lead on a Guereca kill. The run continued for New Mexico in what amounted to a 7-0 run that went from the Lobos trailing 7-5 to leading 12-7, with Guereca accounting for four kills in the run. Another kill by Guereca made it 13-8, a service error provided match point at 14-9 and another service error clinched the match for the visitors at 15-10.

Guereca had six kills in the final set, hitting .556, as the Lobos hit .500 as a team compared to .294 for Wyoming.

The Lobos have two home matches left in the MW season, set to face Utah State on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Boise State on Saturday at 1 p.m.