The University of New Mexico volleyball team has shown an ability to play from behind this season.
Coach Jon Newman-Gonchar wants to see a different approach.
The Lobos spent most of Saturday afternoon playing from behind against perennial Mountain West power Colorado State and never quite caught up. The Rams (11-4, 4-0) fought off one UNM comeback after another and escaped raucous Johnson Center with a 3-1 victory. The set scores were 25-23, 26-24, 19-25, 25-18.
New Mexico (10-4, 1-3) gave an announced crowd of 1,222 plenty to cheer about, battling despite a significant height disadvantage and the absence of starting setter Anilee Sher for a second straight match. Sher was away attending to a “personal situation” and is expected back soon, Newman-Gonchar said.
Melissa Walden (39 assists, 13 digs) played well Saturday in Sher’s absence, but the Lobos as a group committed just a few too many key errors to overcome the talented Rams, especially playing from behind.
“Not our best serving and passing performance,” Newman-Gonchar said, “and we keep putting ourselves in situations where we’re playing from behind. Good teams won’t let you come back.”
It didn’t stop UNM from trying. The Lobos trimmed a 19-12 deficit to 24-23 in set one before falling. They trailed 22-17 in set two and rallied to lead 24-23, only to watch CSU score the final three points.
UNM raced to a 9-3 lead in set three and never let the Rams get closer than a five-point deficit. But another comeback attempt in set four fell short after a Uxue Guereca kill tied the score at 17. Colorado State put together an 8-1 run to clinch the match.
Kaitlynn Biassou had a match-high 16 kills for UNM, while Guereca added 11 kills and 12 digs. Avital Jaloba added seven kills and eight blocks.
Naeemah Weathers and Karina Leber had 13 kills apiece for Colorado State.
Saturday’s result was a bit too familiar for the Lobos, who dropped the first two sets and ended up on the wrong end of a marathon five-setter against Wyoming on Thursday. The Cowgirls won the final set 22-20.
“I love the fight and we’re right there,” Newman-Gonchar said, “and the thing is we play all these teams again. We’ve got to go back to work, figure out what we can take away from this and keep getting better. Getting off to better starts would definitely help.”
– Ken Sickenger
NMSU VOLLEYBALL: Visiting Utah Tech (7-6, 1-3 WAC) upset New Mexico State, 3-1, by scores of 25-15, 25-17, 16-25, 25-18 at the Pan American Center on Saturday. Katie Birtcil had 16 kills to lead the Aggies (9-6, 2-2), while Sidney McIntosh added 10.
UNM SOCCER: The Lobos (3-2-5, 1-0-2 MWC) will look for a second straight win Sunday when they visit Colorado College (3-4-3, 0-1-2) for a Mountain West matchup at 1:30 p.m.
Jadyn Edwards had a goal and an assist in UNM’s 2-0 victory at Air Force on Thursday. The Lobos had played to three consecutive draws prior to Thursday’s match and is riding a five-game unbeaten streak overall. UNM is tied with Colorado State for second place in the Mountain West standings, trailing only Utah State (5-3-4, 2-1-0).
NMSU SOCCER: The Aggies (5-3-3, 2-1-2 WAC) host Abilene Christian (4-11, 1-2-0) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. NMSU is coming off a 4-0 win over Tarleton State on Friday. Megan Ormson, Sofia Beerworth, Brooke Schultz and Blakely Edgar scored for NMSU.