In their final matches of their collegiate careers, the Lobos’ seniors looked to go out with some wins.
The University of New Mexico beach volleyball team closed out its 2017 season with a doubleheader sweep of Air Force on Saturday, defeating the Falcons 5-0 in back-to-back matches at Lucky 66 Bowl in Albuquerque.
The Lobos (17-10) capped their third season of beach volleyball winners of three straight and 10 of their last 11 matches, and sent their seniors out on a high note as they grounded Air Force on a picturesque spring day.
“It was a really nice day, the weather couldn’t have been better,” New Mexico head coach Jeff Nelson said. “The stands were full again, it was absolutely perfect … Every senior got a win on their last day.”
Behind their senior class of Devanne Sours, Lise Rugland, Marisa Doran and Julia Warren, the Lobos tied the program record for most wins a season with their wins over the Falcons, who were trying out beach volleyball.
It’s the second season in a row that New Mexico won 17 matches, with this season featuring a torrid finish as the Lobos went 14-3 over the final month of the season.
“I think we played better in the second half of the season and racked up a lot of wins and finished with a pretty good record,” Nelson said.
Along with another 17-win season, UNM also extended its home winning streak, parlaying its homecourt advantage at Lucky 66 Bowl to 10 straight wins in Albuquerque.
“I want to thanks Lucky 66 and owner Mike Draper for another great season,” Nelson said. “We’ve been really fortunate to have this as our home base for the last two years.”
Match 1: New Mexico 5, Air Force 0
After playing two matches Friday in Tempe, Arizona — including a win over No. 20 Cal — New Mexico faced an early turnaround as it welcomed Air Force to the Duke City for a 10 a.m. match.
But, with momentum on their side, the Lobos were undaunted.
“I thought we were really steady,” Nelson said. “It was nice not to give up any points today. I thought everyone stayed on top of things, got their work done and did a good job.”
Sours & Rugland got UNM on the board first as they ran by the Academy’s Elizabeth Pennington & Savannah Banyai 21-8, 21-12 on the No. 2 court.
UNM then added a win on the 4’s court as Carly Beddingfield & Chloe Crappell defeated Abigail Miksch & Sarah Hellman 21-18, 21-17
After switching the second flight of courts, New Mexico continued to tack on the points, rounding out the match with straight-set sweeps on the odd-numbered courts.
On the No. 5 court, Warren & Victoria Spragg registered a 21-10, 21-13
win over Julia Boswell & Lauren Heldt, while Doran & Baleto edged by Shanleigh Conlan & Denise Ssozi 21-19, 21-19
on the No. 3 court.
For Baleto, her win in Saturday‘s opener was her 50th as a Lobo. She is the first player in program history to reach that milestone.
Cassie House & Ashley Kelsey sealed the sweep, dispatching Piper Heineck & Alina Vanecek 21-10, 21-8 on the top-seeded court.
Match 2: New Mexico 5, Air Force 0
After a short break for lunch, the Lobos were back in action, honoring their seniors prior to the match before finishing off the doubleheader sweep.
House & Kelsey put New Mexico on the board first, logging a 21-8, 21-10 win over Banyai & Pennington. It’s the duo’s 11th win in their final 14 matches, giving them a 17-10 record on the season.
Baleto & Doran added another point via a 21-11, 21-8 win on the No. 4 court. They finished the season with an 18-7 record, second-best on the team, and winners of 14 of their last 17 matches.
As a partnership, Doran & Baleto finished with a 41-10 record, the most wins by a pair at UNM.
Warren also finished with a win in her UNM career, teaming up with Lauren Twitty to win the No. 3 court 21-11, 21-14
over Hellman & Miksch. It was the tandem’s 10th win a row and gave the pair a 17-5 record on the season.
It’s the second-best single-season winning percentage in program history, behind Doran & Baleto’s 23-3 mark from last season.
Warren 47 career wins individually are second in program history behind Baleto.
Sours & Rugland notched their final win next, taking down Ssozi & Conlan 21-14, 21-14
. They ended the season with a 20-7 record (second-most single-season wins and third-best winning percentage in program history) and finished their careers with a 34-13 record together.
Emily Nenninger & Lyric Ellison sealed the sweep, winning 22-20, 21-18
over Heineck & Boswell on the No. 5 court.
New Mexico also added a win on the exhibition court, as Spragg & Beddingfield won 21-8, 21-10 over Vanecek & Heldt.