Stevens: Nelson's Lobos Rolled In The Pit 3-1 by UNLV Rebels

Oct. 25, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Volleyball - Mountain West Action

Thursday: UNLV Rebels 3, New Mexico Lobos 1 (21-25, 25-15, 21-25, 13-25)
Saturday: vs. 6 p.m. (MT), vs. Fresno State at Johnson Center
Live GameTracker, Stats, Game Story

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

The basic rule for winning a Mountain West title was broken by Coach Jeff Nelson's Lobos Thursday night in The Pit.

They lost at home.

The injury-depleted Lobos fell 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 21-25, 13-15) to the UNLV Rebels, who had beaten UNM 3-0 earlier this season in Las Vegas. The loss dropped UNM to 18-7 overall and 5-4 in Mountain West play.

The Lobos destroyed the Rebels 25-15 in Game Two, hung with the Rebs until the closing run in Game One and Game Three, and rolled over in the fourth and deciding match, 25-13.

"I thought they quit. It was really disappointing," said Coach Jeff Nelson. "Tuesday, I understood. A lot happened (Ashley Newman lost for the season), and we had to deal with a lot. But tonight (Thursday), our players just quit. We just gave up and we didn't manage the match."

The Lobos hit .140 on the night and UNLV hit .179. A big difference came on the defensive side of the net where the Rebels had 23 total blocks to 13 for New Mexico. UNM got 21 kills and 19 digs from Chantale Riddle.

UNM had 83 digs to 69 for UNLV, but UNM also was on the defensive a bit too much. Miquella Lovato had 21 digs, Lena Skipper had 14, Jordan Russell had 13 and Alijah Gunsaulus had 10. Russell added 28 assists.

UNLV got 15 kills and 12 digs from Daryn Glenn and 10 kills and 12 digs from Sekola Falemaka. UNLV is 15-7 overall and the big MW road win pushes them to 7-2 in league play.

Nelson said his Lobos showed good fight until the stretch run of Game Three.

"I thought it (quitting) came at 19-17 in the third game," said Nelson. "They scored a couple of points and we rolled over. We don't have subs. If we can't follow a game plan and stay in a match, we are in trouble because there are no adjustments."

Nelson said he expects his young team to pull themselves out of this slump. UNM also lost Tuesday to New Mexico State.

"We've been that type of team all year," Nelson said of his team's ability to battle. "They may just be exhausted. We need stronger leadership if we are going to get through this (four players lost to injury in 2012) and we need our kids to step up."

Game One: UNLV Rebels 25, New Mexico Lobos 21

The Lobos hung tough in Game One until the close. UNLV pulled out of a 19-all tie to go up 22-19 before nailing the 25-21 win.

The Lobos leaned heavily on Riddle, who had seven kills on 13 attacks, but the talented Lobo jumping jack didn't have much help at the net. Alijah Gunsaulus had no kills and four attack errors and Lena Skipper had no kills and two attack errors.

The Rebels had only one more kill than UNM, 12 to 8, but ruled the net defensively with one solo block and 10 block assists. UNM had one solo and two assists. UNLV hit .118 for the game and UNM was .061.

UNM went up 5-4 on a savage Riddle spike. The Lobo gave the point right back on a wide serve. UNLV got two blocks to go up 7-5. Lexi Ross pulled UNM to 7-6, but another double block on the outside pushed the Rebels into an 8-6 lead.

UNM then got on a run. Hannah Johnson pushed one over for a winner, UNM got a block and Vegas had a hitting error as UNM went up 9-8. Johnson got a block in the middle and UNM was up 10-8. Another Vegas hitting error extended UNM's run to five points, 11-8, before a UNM serving error made it 11-9.

The game stayed close. A Riddle kill made it 13-11 but UNLV came back to form a 13-13 tie. Riddle went high for another kill on the right side: 14-13. Vegas came back to go up 15-14.

The game stayed close with ties at 15-all, 16-all, 17-all, 18-all and 19-all before Vegas slipped up 21-19 heading down the stretch. Nelson called for a UNM huddle with Vegas serving. The Rebels put away another spike and went up 22-19. Riddle ended that 3-point run with a kill: 22-20. A placement push by UNLV found a hole in the back of the Lobo defense and Vegas was two points away from the win: 23-20. UNM went into another huddle.

Riddle got a nice spike that was dug out by Vegas, but UNLV had a hitting error: 23-21. UNLV then closed it out, getting a block to form the 25-21 final.

Game Two: New Mexico Lobos 25, UNLV Rebels 15

The Lobos didn't have to worry much about the close in this game. They took control in the middle going from a 6-5 lead to leads of 15-10 and 18-10. When the match got into the 20s, it was UNM 20, UNLV 12. The Lobos coasted in for the win and went into the break tied one game apiece.

Riddle had six kills in Game Two, but she also got some help. Gunsaulus chipped in three kills as did Skipper. Ross added four kills and Riddle had eight digs. One UNM point ended with a Riddle kill and was kept alive by two Riddle digs. Miquella Lovato had eight digs in Game Two.

UNM hit .275 and UNLV hit .048. UNM went into the two-game break with 28 kills to 21 for the Rebels. UNLV had 18 total blocks and UNM had nine. The Lobos had 37 digs at that point and UNLV had 22. The Lobos and the Rebels had 12 ties and six lead changes in Game One, but UNM never looked back in Game Two.

The Lobos got off to a good start, up 4-0 and 5-1. UNLV came back to make it 6-5, but UNM again drifted up 11-7. An ace by Russell pushed UNM's lead to 12-7 before the Rebels got a kill in the middle to make it 12-8. The Lobos continued to protect their lead and at the 15-point media break UNM was up 15-10.

UNM continued to build on that lead: 18-10, 22-13 and closed at 25-15.

Game Three: UNLV Rebels 25, New Mexico Lobos 21

The Lobos had a scary moment early. Riddle rolled her ankle on the game's first point, won by UNLV. The Rebels went on to a 3-0 lead and Riddle went to the bench. She came back with the count 3-1. Her presence didn't end the Rebels' roll. UNLV went up 7-1 and UNM called for a timeout.

The huddle did the Lobos some good. They came out to score three straight points and cut UNLV's lead to 7-4, 8-6 and 9-7. UNLV then rolled into an 11-7 lead before UNM cut it to 12-11 and 13-12. UNM got the 13-all tie on a serve by Gunsaulus. The Rebels called for time.

UNM stayed in control: 15-13 before Reb Stephanie Thelen pounded one for a 15-14 count. The game stayed close: 15-all, 16-all, 17-all and 19-all. UNM had the lead in that short stretch until Vegas went up 20-19. Ross produced the 20-all tie with a running slam.

UNLV then pounded their way to a 24-20 lead before Ross snapped that run with a spike from the middle: 24-21. Vegas got the 25-21 win when a Lobo touched the net on a blocking attempt.

Riddle had only three kills in that game and UNM hit .118 to .151 for UNLV. Skipper and Ross had four kills. UNM had 42 kills to 35, but UNLV had 23 total blocks to 12 for the Lobos.

Game Four: UNLV Rebels 25, New Mexico Lobos 13

UNLV got off to a hot 7-1 lead in Game Three and at the 6-2 mark in Game Four, Nelson called a timeout trying to slow the Rebels' roll. The Rebs stayed hot, going up 11-4 before a UNLV hitting error made it 11-5.

UNLV went up 13-6 before UNM cut it to 13-8. Vegas came back: 15-8 and 16-8 before Nelson burned a timeout; his Lobos in an eight-point hole. It got worse. UNLV powered to a 21-10 lead and rolled to the deciding Game Four win.