Stevens: Lobos Survive Pit Thriller in 3-2 Win Over Boise State

Oct. 4, 2012

New Mexico Lobos 3, Boise State Broncos 2 - Thursday - The Pit

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

There's no place like home --- even if it's The Pit. But just barely.

Coach Jeff Nelson's Lobos made a short journey from the University of New Mexico's main campus and Johnson Center to give more parking room to "The Lion King" production being staged in Popejoy Hall.

It might have been the Lobos who had the loudest roar Thursday night - especially in rallying from a 17-10 hole in game three - as New Mexico out fought a game Boise State team in a 3-2 Mountain West volleyball match held in University Arena.

Probably, it was the Lobos most thrilling match of the season and you have to give the visitors from Idaho credit for this thriller, too. It was a match that could have gone either way, but it was the Lobos who gutted out a 17-15 win in game five.

The Lobos won 20-25, 25-13, 28-26, 29-31, 17-15.

Game One: Boise State Broncos 25, New Mexico Lobos 20.

The Lobos fell behind 3-1 before going up 7-4 and 11-8. The Broncos hung around and fought back to leads of 14-13, 15-14 and 16-14. It was the Lobos' turn to fight back. They turned the count into 16-all and 17-all before Boise went up 20-17 and Nelson called for a huddle. A Riddle blow from the middle went out wide: 21-17. UNM scratched back to 21-19 and Boise State called for a timeout.

The next two-point swing went to Boise and down 23-19, Nelson called time with the visitors two points away from the first-game win. A UNM block failed and the Broncos were up 24-19. Another failed block handed Boise State the 25-20 win.

It was a close game statistically. Boise State had 14 kills and four errors and UNM had 13 kills and five errors. Boise State hit .278 percent and UNM was at .276. Gunsaulus had five kills in that game and Riddle had four. The Broncos were paced by Alyssa Gammel with four kills. Lovato had five digs for the Lobos.

Game Two: New Mexico Lobos 25, Boise State Broncos 13

The Lobos came back with more energy and better volleyball - especially at the net on defense. The Lobos had no blocks in the first game, but had one solo and eight assists in this game. Riddle paced the attack with five kills and Lexi Ross and Lena Skipper had three apiece. Jordan Russell and Miquella each had four digs from the back row.

Boise State's hitting percentage plummeted to .062 while UNM's went up from .276 to .458.

UNM jumped on the Broncos early and used two blocks at the net by Alijah Gunsaulus and Megan Short to go up 4-1. UNM extended that bulge to 12-5 and 17-8. Boise called a timeout, but the hole was already carved and deep. Boise never climbed out, losing 25-13.

Game Three: New Mexico Lobos 28, Boise State Broncos 26

The Lobos were a different team in game two. The Broncos were a different team in game three -- early.

The Broncos came out of the break with some fresh intensity and probably not happy with their 12-point whipping in game two. The Lobos were a bit flat and seemingly expecting to repeat the romp with less effort.

The Broncos drifted up 9-7, 11-8 and 15-8. Nelson called a timeout. 17-10. The Broncos were building a hole similar to the one the Lobos carved in game two - and pushing the Lobos deep into that scoreboard deficit. The Lobos decided to climb out.

Boise State went up 19-13 on a back-row kill, but the Lobos scratched to 19-15 on a long rally that produced a nice psychological point. Boise State saw the shift in momentum and called a time out, trying to stall the Lobos' charge. The Broncos got a nice four-point cushion at 20-16 on a kill by Liz Harden. The Lobos weren't going away and worked to 20-19.

A UNM serving error made it 21-19. UNM had the serve at 22-21, but Boise got a winning spike to go up 23-21. Gammel beat the UNM defense with a spike and Boise had game point at 24-21. UNM made a charge and was serving at 24-23. A Lobo block knotted the game at 24-24 with The Pit rising for their stars. A long and dramatic rally ended with a Riddle spike and a 25-24 UNM lead.

A serving error formed a 25-all tie. Boise went up 26-25 and Riddle struck again from the right side: 26-all. A block by Ross again gave the Lobos the advantage: 27-26. UNM ended it on the serve: 28-26.

Game Four: Boise State Broncos 31, New Mexico Lobos 29

It would have been easy for the Broncos to roll over in game four after blowing their big lead in game three. They didn't. But could they maintain that early energy through a long match - especially with a UNM team that seemed to play better volleyball as the games progressed?

The Broncos went up 4-1, 6-2 and 7-3. The visitors then soared to leads of 11-6 and 15-7. OK, it was about time for the Lobos to kick it up a notch like they did in game three. The Broncos were too good, too game, to keep blowing big leads.

Nelson probably felt the same thing, calling a timeout with his Lobos down 17-8.

Boise State went up 19-10 and UNM nudged the count to 19-13. The three-point surge had Boise State worried. The Broncos called a timeout, trying to prevent another late-match collapse caused by Lobo energy and execution.

The Lobos were down 19-13 in game four and now were only down 19-14 in game four. UNM again made a charge. UNM was serving at 20-16 and appeared about to lose the point when Riddle chased down a ball and kept it alive. UNM pulled to 20-17 on that effort and then made it 20-18 on a block. Boise State, again, was fading down the stretch.

Just like the end of game three, this one was a thriller. Boise State was serving at 23-22 and hit the net. UNM had a 23-all tie and got game point on a block: 24-23. The next UNM block went wide: 24-all. Boise State rocketed a serve long and UNM was up 25-24. A Boise spike created a 25-all tie. A UNM lift gave Boise a game-point opportunity at 26-25.

A Riddle spike gave UNM life at 26-all. A block by Hannah Johnson made it 27-26 for UNM. Boise came back 27-all and UNM went up 28-27. Boise again: 28-all followed by a Bronco block for a 29-28 lead. UNM came back: 29-all. Boise's turn: 30-29 and the Broncos finally got the winning kill for the 31-29 win.

Game Five: New Mexico Lobos 17, Boise State Broncos 15

It was important that the Lobos didn't fall into a quick hole. In a 15-point game, there isn't always time to climb out.

UNM went up 3-1, 4-2, 5-2 and 6-2. Boise State called a quick time out. The talk on the sidelines seemed to help. The Broncos clawed back to a 6-6 tie. UNM called a timeout. At the court shift at the halfway mark, UNM was up 8-7 and serving.

The teams went back and forth 8-all, 9-8 UNM, 9-all, 10-9 UNM, 10-10, 11-10 UNM and a key two-point Lobo lead at 12-10. The Lobos were three points away from the win.

Boise State, of course, didn't roll over. They made it 12-11 and 12-all on a Riddle hit that went long. The teams were going down to the wire just like they did in game three and four.

A Bronco spike went long and UNM was up 13-12 and serving. The Lobos touched the net to make it 13-all. A Bronco spike long: 14-13. A UNM spike in the net: 14-all.

A UNM block of a Bronco spike failed and the Broncos had a 15-14 lead and the serve. A Bronco spike was long again: 15-all. UNM then went up 16-15 and serving. Finally, the Lobos put the Broncos away: 17-15.