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Lobos Take CSU to Limit

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Top-Seeded Rams Escape With Win

It was almost a perfect senior-day Saturday for the University of New Mexico volleyball team.

Almost.

Senior Allison Buck became the Lobos’ career digs leader, senior Kelly Williamson racked up a match-high 21 kills and senior Ashley Rhoades bounced back from an elbow injury to post 13 kills and four blocks.

Friday
MWC Tournament in Albuquerque: UNM vs. Wyoming, 8:30 p.m. TV: The Mtn.

UNM also rallied from behind to force five sets against 23rd-ranked Colorado State in front of 1,746 fans at Johnson Center.

The Rams provided a little buzz kill, however, scoring the final three points to walk away with a 19-25, 25-14, 25-19, 22-25, 15-11 victory. CSU (9-5 overall, 12-2) will be the top seed for this week’s Mountain West Conference tournament in Albuquerque. UNM (14-13, 6-8) will be the fifth seed and face No. 4 Wyoming in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Colorado State took advantage of a significant height advantage Saturday, outhitting UNM .213 to .120 and posting 19 blocks to the Lobos’ six. But the home team played outstanding back-row defense and seemed to he holding its own better at the net as the match progressed.

The outcome turned on a fluke play with CSU up 12-11 in the fifth set. After a scrambling Lobo dig, Mariah Agre collided with teammate Jordan Russell as both tried to set the ball. Agre was whistled for two contacts, giving the point to CSU. Dana Cranston followed with consecutive kills to seal the win for the Rams.

“We had two ball-handling errors in the fifth,” Lobo coach Jeff Nelson said. “We really kind of beat ourselves. But I think we know how close we were to winning today. That’s something we can take into next week.”

Buck was disappointed to break Gayle Tripp’s career digs record in defeat but took heart in the way UNM battled.

“It would have been easy to let down against a great team like CSU,” Buck said, “but we fought for every single point.”

Buck needed nine digs Saturday to surpass the 1,578 amassed by Tripp from 2005-08. Buck finished with 23 and now has 1,593 overall.

“I’m really honored to have the record,” Buck said, “but I have to give it up to Gayle Tripp. She was my teammate when I came here and I wanted to be just like her. I owe a lot to her.”
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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