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Lobos Defeat Host UNLV in Five, Advance to MW Semis

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – New Mexico Volleyball battled from down 2-1 in its Mountain West Championship Quarterfinal match with UNLV, rallying to dispatch the third-seeded host Rebels in five sets (24-26, 25-19, 23-25, 25-14, 15-12) in their home gym for their first MW Tournament win since 2006 and first semifinals berth since 1999.

Prior to this season, Coach Newman-Gonchar had yet to beat the Rebels in his tenure at UNM. The Lobos have now defeated them twice on the road in the same season for the first time ever.

The No. 6-seed Lobos (19-11, 10-8 MW) are now 4-1 in five-set matches this season. They move on to face No. 2-seed Colorado State in tomorrow’s Semifinal matchup, set for a 5 p.m. MT start.

Uxue Guereca recorded her 13th double-double of the season with a team-high 21 kills to go with 15 digs – her fourth 20-kill match of the season – to lead the way, with Athina Dimitriadis (14 kills) and Kaitlynn Biassou (10 kills) both cracking double-digits as well. Kali Wolf (6 kills) and Elizabeth Woods (4 kills) also finished with multiple.

Guereca produced 13 of her kills over the final three sets, including the match-winner in the fifth. She hit at a .417 clip with just three attack errors in that span.

Dimitriadis hit a team-high .464 while adding three assists, four digs, a pair of block assists and an ace. Guereca hit .366 to go with two assists and a pair of block assists of her own.

In the same gym where they swept the Rebels nearly a month earlier, the Lobos finished with 11 aces – the most in a single game this season – while holding UNLV to just two. Guereca was one of three Lobos to finish with multiple aces, serving up two while Biassou (3 aces) and Wolf (4 aces) combined for seven more.

UNM hit .240 on the match while holding the Rebels to .178 hitting in the process – UNLV hit .400 in the opening frame but was held below .300 the rest of the way, including .083 hitting in the second set and -.077 hitting in the fourth. 

Giselle Groe led UNM with 16 digs at libero, one of three Lobos to crack double-digits along with Guereca and Wolf (11).

Melissa Walden finished with 41 assists – her eighth match this season with at least 40 – and four other Lobos produced multiple assists in the winning effort.

Biassou, celebrating her 23rd birthday, got things started with a kill on her first attempt and followed up with a block assist along with Woods for a 2-0 start. She served up a pair of aces as the Lobos picked up six blocks by the time her second ace cued a UNLV timeout at 15-12. UNM stayed ahead until Dimitriadis’ fourth kill of the set made it 24-21, when UNLV ripped off a 5-0 run to steal the set late. UNM finished with .281 hitting and 13 kills in the set – led by four kills each from Guereca and Dimitriadis – but the Rebels put up 19 kills on .400 hitting to threaten the whole way.

Neither team could take control early in the second, trading leads 7 times and tying 11 times in total until a 4-0 UNM run that included Woods’ first kill of the match and the Lobos’ sixth service ace made it 18-14. They outscored UNLV 7-5 the rest of the way, finishing the set with 11 kills despite .171 hitting thanks to four more kills each from Guereca and Dimitriadis and two more aces from Walden and Dimitriadis.

Guereca continued to power UNM’s attack in a pivotal third, connecting on a pair of kills for UNM’s first two points and adding six more as the Lobos surged late to tie things up late. Dimitriadis connected on her 10th kill of the night before a pair of UNLV attack errors made it 21-all, but UNLV managed to hold the Lobos off at set point to take a 2-1 lead.

Needing a set win to stay alive, UNM jumped out to an early lead in a pivotal fourth, ripping off a 5-0 run to go up 7-3 and force a UNLV timeout. The Lobos controlled the rest of the way thanks to a resurgent set from Biassou – who put down five kills in the fourth – as they closed on a 5-1 run to regain momentum and force the all-important fifth.

The Rebels weren’t ready to roll over in a decisive fifth, with UNM unable to go ahead by more than a single point until Guereca’s second ace and the Lobos’ 11th made it 10-8. UNLV rattled off a pair of kills to tie things up at 12-all, but UNM responded in kind, with Guereca providing her final two kills as the Lobos scored the final three to put the finishing touches on their biggest win yet this season.

Tomorrow’s Semifinal match – set for a 5 p.m. MT start – will be broadcast via the MW Network, with live stats available via Follow @UNMLoboVB on socials for scores, highlights, gameday content and more.