Lobos Host Utah State Thursday
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— It’s the final week of the Mountain West conference schedule and it’s a big week for the Lobos as UNM hosts Utah State and Boise State.
The Lobos are currently tied with Nevada for fifth in the conference standings at 7-9, with Boise State and San Diego State at 6-10. San Diego State and Nevada play each other on Thursday and Boise State plays Air Force on Thursday.
First serve for UNM and Utah State is set for 6:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center, with tickets still available to purchase for the match at golobos.com/tickets. For those unable to attend, the match will be streamed on the Mountain West Network with live stats available.
UNM enters the week riding some momentum after sweeping Colorado followed by a five-set win over Wyoming in Laramie. UNM defeated both CSU and Wyoming on the road in the same season for the first time in program history, further enhancing what a feat it was. Head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar also earned his 50th win at the helm of the Lobos in Thursday’s win.
New Mexico won all three of the Mountain West weekly awards, as announced by the conference on Monday.
As a result of their weekend stats, Uxue Guereca earned MW Offensive Player of the Week, Alena Moldan earned MW Defensive Player of the Week and Lea Zurlinden earned MW Freshman of the Week on Monday. It is the third career honor for Guereca (second for offensive), fourth for Moldan and second for Zurlinden. However, it is the first weekly conference accolade for Guereca and Moldan this season, while Zurlinden also won freshman of the week on Sept. 12.
It was the second time that UNM has swept the awards, with the others occurring in spring 2021 with Guereca and Kali Wolf in week one and in 2017, however it is the first time that UNM has won all weekly honors since freshman of the week was introduced in fall 2021.
Guereca led the Lobos with 36 kills and averaged 4.5 kills per set with 5.0 points per set (40 points total),and tallied two double-doubles on the week. Moldan had one of her best weeks of the conference season, with 38 digs on the week that included a team-high 20 against Wyoming and a match-high 18 against Colorado State, and averaged 4.75 digs per set. Zurlinden finished with 13 kills with just one error (13-1-3), hitting .400 on the week to go along with seven total blocks (one solo and six assisted).
The Lobos also recorded a season-best 18.0 blocks in the match at Wyoming with Avital Jaloba having a career-best five solo blocks and nine total blocks. Kaitlynn Biassou finished with three solo blocks and two assisted blocks, Guereca had one solo and two assisted, Zurlinden had one solo and four assisted and Kali Wolf had three assisted and Lauryn Payne had one assisted. As a team, UNM had 10 solo blocks, the most in program history in the 25-point rally scoring era. The 18 total blocks are tied for the fifth most in a match in the 25-point rally scoring era.
Utah State enters the week 19-8 on the season and 11-5 in conference. The Aggies have won their last four matches and are 5-2 on the road in conference, 7-4 on the season. They are 7-4 in three sets, 7-2 in four sets and 5-2 in five sets.
Tatum Stall has a team-high 301 kills, averaging 3.04 kills per set and hitting .228. Leah Wilton-LaBoy and Beatriz Rodrigues are nearly identical in assists with Wilton-LaBoy at 558 (5.37 per set) and Rodrigues at 533 (5.13 per set).
Utah State leads the conference in conference matches in service aces (185) and aces per set (1.78).
Following Thursday’s match, the Lobos will host Boise State on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Johnson. Tickets for that match are also still available.