There’s also at least one extremely challenging road trip.
The Lobos will visit defending national champion Nebraska for a four-team tournament in one of the most intimidating venues in the sport. Not all of the schedule released this weekend by UNM coach Jeff Nelson appears overly difficult, but visiting the Cornhuskers at the Devaney Center rates as a big-time test.
Nebraska finished 32-4 last season, 19-1 at home and ranked among the national leaders in attendance at 8,202 fans per home match. Crowds exceeding 10,000 are not uncommon.
“It’ll be a great experience for our players,” Nelson said. “Playing that level of program in front of that kind of crowd is something you remember. We’re excited about it.”
The Lobos (16-16 last season) also will receive a $10,000 payday for making the trip.
UNM’s non-conference schedule also includes tournaments at Idaho and North Florida. The Lobos’ lone home tournament will feature Florida Gulf Coast, Eastern Kentucky and New Mexico State. UNM and NMSU have had difficulty scheduling their annual battles in recent seasons and have agreed to try playing them as part of tournaments.
“(Aggies coach Mike Jordan) and I feel like we’ll get more out of it this way,” Nelson said. “We’ve ended up playing games during conference season, which is tough on both teams.”
New Mexico’s unbalanced Mountain West schedule includes just one match apiece against Utah State (home) and Boise State (away) this season. The Lobos will play home and away against the MWC’s other eight squads.
“I feel like it’s a good schedule for the team we’ll have,” Nelson said. “We have all of our hitting coming back but we’ll have some new faces, too. This schedule should give us a chance to build.”
NOTE: The Lobos have added Rachel Murphy, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker from Wisconsin’s Menomonee Falls High School, to next season’s roster. Murphy, who racked up 273 kills in 100 sets played last season, will join UNM as a walk-on. Murphy received honorable mention all-state honors as a senior.
Aug. 31-Sept. 1 Lobo Invitational (Florida Gulf Coast, E. Kentucky, New Mexico State) TBA
Sept. 7-8 at North Florida tournament (North Florida, Furman, Upstate) TBA
Sept. 14-15 at Nebraska tournament (Nebraska, Missouri State, Central Michigan) TBA
Sept. 20 Utah State 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Boise State TBA
Sept. 26 UNLV 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Air Force noon
Oct. 4 Nevada 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 San Jose State TBA
Oct. 11 at San Diego State 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Fresno State 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 Colorado State 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 Wyoming TBA
Oct. 23 at UNLV 6 p.m.
Oct. 27 Air Force TBA
Nov. 1 at San Jose State TBA
Nov. 3 at Nevada TBA
Nov. 8 Fresno State 7 p.m.
Nov. 10 San Diego State TBA
Nov. 15 at Wyoming TBA
Nov. 17 at Colorado State TBA