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Lobo Volleyball To Face Aggies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Think Pink Is One Of Elements in Pit

There are plenty of subplots for tonight’s edition of the Rio Grande Rivalry — a volleyball showdown between UNM and New Mexico State.

For one, it’s the Lobos annual Think Pink match, raising money for the fight against breast cancer.

Next, the match is being played at the Pit, which actually could provide advantages for both teams.

Third, the Lobos and Aggies are similar teams having similar seasons, contending in their respective conference races. Both would dearly love to grab momentum with a rivalry win tonight.

“I think we’re pretty evenly matched,” Lobo coach Jeff Nelson said. “With a rivalry match you throw out the records, but both teams are doing pretty well. It comes down to which team’s ready to battle.”

UNM (18-5, 5-3 Mountain West) is going into a crucial three-match week. After facing NMSU, the Lobos have conference home matches against UNLV and Fresno State. New Mexico is part of a three-way tie for third place in a tight league race, one game behind co-leaders Colorado State and UNLV.

“It’s a very big week for us,” Nelson said. “The conference matches mean more in terms of the big picture, but New Mexico State is not just another match. We definitely want to play well.”

The Aggies (14-7, 8-3 Western Athletic Conference) are tied for second place, 1 1/2-games behind WAC leader Utah State. NMSU dropped two of three matches last week and needs to regain a winning pace before next month’s WAC tournament.

The Lobos and Aggies are led by sophomore outside hitters, Chantale Riddle and Meredith Hays, respectively. Riddle hits on the right side for UNM, while Hays lines up on the left for NMSU.

“They’ll probably see each other head-to-head at times,” Nelson said. “That should be fun. They’re both outstanding players.”

While it’s a home match for UNM, the Aggies may feel a bit more comfortable playing at the Pit. NMSU plays its home matches at the Pan American Center, while the Lobos typically play at smaller Johnson Center.

Tonight’s match is one of three at the Pit this month, scheduled there to avoid main-campus parking conflicts during performances of “The Lion King” at Popejoy Hall.

“The whole season has been kind of funky for us, with all the different lineups and different venues,” Nelson said. “This week we play two home games at the Pit and one at Johnson, so it kind of fits right in.”

The Lobos also will sport pink jerseys tonight as they seek to better the $4,000 dollars raised for UNM Hospital’s Cancer Center at last season’s Think Pink match. The donation goal tonight is $6,000.

Fans wearing pink tonight will be admitted for $3 instead of the usual $5. Raffle tickets will be sold for numerous prizes, including a MacBook Air and an XBOX 360 game system. There will also be a silent auction.
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal