Some of the statistics did not appear dominant, but the final score did.
The University of New Mexico volleyball team opened Mountain West play with a convincing three-set win over Air Force at Johnson Center on Tuesday night. The Lobos (10-2, 1-0) led nearly all the way in a 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 sweep.
Outside hitters Kaitlynn Biassou and Uxue Guereca were the difference-makers, combining for 27 of UNM’s 39 kills. Biassou racked up 14 kills with a .524 hitting percentage, while Guereca had 13 kills and hit .429.
“Those are some very nice numbers for Kait and Uxue,” Lobos coach Jon Newman-Gonchar said. “We’ll take those any time. Overall, I didn’t think it was the cleanest match but we sustained enough pressure to keep (the Falcons) off the net and got the big points when we needed them.”
Tuesday’s match was the second in a challenging six-day stretch for the Lobos, who defeated Northern Arizona on Saturday and will host Fresno State for a 6:30 p.m. contest on Thursday. The latter will be the MWC opener for the Bulldogs.
“It’s a quick turnaround but we’ll be ready,” Biassou said. “We’ve been taking really good care of ourselves and we’re excited to get conference started. It always helps to start with a win.”
Sparked by strong serves from Alena Moldan and Hayley Torres, UNM set the tone early and built a 16-9 advantage in set one. The Falcons (3-8, 0-1) got as close as 23-19 on a pair of kills from 6-foot-4 middle blocker Joi Harvey, but Biassou hammered in back-to-back spikes to clinch the set.
The Lobos led throughout set two, grabbing a 23-13 lead when Kassie McGill blasted a kill off a defender and into the crowd.
Air Force took a 3-0 lead in the final set, but UNM recovered quickly. Moldan buried an ace during a six-point service run to 7-4 and the home team steadily pulled away to clinch the victory.
Air Force was able to trim the Lobos’ lead to two or three points on occasion, but Biassou or Guereca always seemed to answer.
“I don’t think that was the strategy,” Biassou said. “We just got it going. Uxue always has my back and I always have hers.”
UNM outhit the Falcons .326 to .083 and kept the visitors out of system with strong serves. The Lobos did have 11 service errors, however, and finished with 29 digs to Air Force’s 30.
“It’s encouraging to win in three sets and know we were not as good as we could be,” Newman-Gonchar said.
Setter Melissa Walden had 21 assists and seven digs for UNM. Mac Russ had seven kills to pace Air Force.