Both Teams Have Top Programs
This one means a little bit more.
The University of New Mexico and New Mexico State volleyball teams will square off tonight in the Pan Am Center in the latest installment of the Rio Grande Rivalry. Where volleyball is concerned, it’s not a rivalry in name only.
Both UNM (9-5) and NMSU (13-4) have been remarkably successful under respective coaches Jeff Nelson and Mike Jordan, and the teams’ annual showdown has become arguably the most competitive battle in the Rio Grande Rivalry series. The winner has advanced to NCAA Tournament play each of the past five seasons.
UNM at New Mexico State, 7 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Arizona, Altitude, ESPN3.com
“(The Aggies) are great rivals,” UNM senior Ashley Rhoades said. “They’re always talented and well-coached, and we both want to be the best team in New Mexico. We really look forward to playing State.”
The Lobos and Aggies have a fair amount in common this season. Both are getting key contributions from young players: Four freshmen have started at various times for UNM, while freshman Meredith Hays leads NMSU in kills.
Both teams also are receiving strong senior leadership. Middle blocker Rhoades and libero Allison Buck have been racking up impressive numbers for the Lobos, while setter Jennah DeVries has been outstanding for the Aggies.
In addition, both teams come in on a bit of a roll. The Lobos swept Mountain West Conference road matches at Air Force and Boise State last weekend, while the Aggies have won their first three Western Athletic Conference matches. While tonight’s is a non-conference contest, it figures to help the winner in terms of regional rankings, RPI and postseason résumés.
“It’s important for us because we’re trying to build consistency,” Nelson said. “We played pretty well at Boise, but New Mexico State is always an intense match for us. We can’t afford to let up at all.”
NOTE: Rhoades was named MWC co-player of the week on Monday, sharing the honor with Colorado State’s Katelyn Steffan. Steffan set an MWC season high with 28 kills against UNLV last week. That mark was eclipsed by Rhoades’ 31 kills Saturday at Boise State.
Lobos, Aggies True RivalsTodayUNM at New Mexico State, 7 p.m.TV: Fox Sports Arizona, Altitude, ESPN3.comBoth Teams Have Top Programs
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal