Despite a rather uninspired finish, the University of New Mexico volleyball team got the job done Friday night.
The Lobos shook off some shaky play in the final two sets to take a 3-1 victory over Towson in the opening round of the Lobo Invitational at Johnson Center. The set scores were 25-14, 25-18, 20-25, 25-17.
Chantale Riddle had a team-high 15 kills for UNM (6-1), which faces Abilene Christian and Northern Arizona as the tournament concludes today. The Lumberjacks (6-1) defeated the Wildcats (3-3) in three sets Friday.
Lobo coach Jeff Nelson said his team needs a more consistent effort today, especially against an NAU team that recently swept Mountain West favorite San Diego State.
“We have to do a better job staying focused,” Nelson said. “We came out and dominated the first two sets tonight, then things got sloppy.”
Elsa Krieg may have been the most consistent Lobo, finishing with 11 kills, five blocks and a .450 hitting percentage. She and Riddle controlled the first set at the net. Krieg then teamed with Julia Warren to spark a late 6-0 run that helped determine set two.
Towson’s Saitaua Iosia, who led all players with 17 kills, made the Lobos pay for an error-plagued third set. Iosia had eight kills in the set, as the Tigers (3-7) rallied to make things interesting.
“She was the player we were really trying to key on,” Krieg said of Iosia. “We did a great job the first two sets, but she hit some great shots in the third.” UNM regained the momentum in set four, building a 20-9 lead behind Riddle and Lexi Ross. The Lobos sputtered to the finish line, however, committing seven service errors in the set.
“We gave them half their points,” Nelson said shaking his head. “I’m happy for the win because Towson’s a really athletic team, but we need to finish better.”
Warren finished with seven kills, while Hannah Johnson collected 37 assists and 16 digs for UNM.
NEW MEXICO STATE: In Las Cruces, the Aggies began their home schedule Friday with a 3-1 (17-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-20) victory over Southern Utah at the Pan Am Center to begin tournament play.
The Aggies (2-6) later fell in four sets to Arkansas-Little Rock (22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 29-27).
Aggie senior outside hitter Lauren Loerch led NMSU in the opener, posting her first double-double of the season, finishing with a team-high 15 kills and 10 digs. Loerch had 18 kills against UALR (4-4), but Edina Begic had 19 to lead three players in double digits for the Trojans.