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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The University of New Mexico volleyball team wrapped up its opening weekend at the University of Arkansas Invitational with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-14, 25-19) win over Northwestern State on Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Lobos went 2-1 in their first weekend of action and had two players named to the All-Tournament team in redshirt junior Chantale Riddle and senior Miquella Lovato.
New Mexico's home-opening match is Friday, Sept. 6 against UC Riverside at 1 p.m. MT as part of the Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic.
The Lobos got off to a slower start on Saturday against the Lady Demons before getting back on track and taking the final two sets of the sweep with more decisive scores.
"We started out struggling a little with our passing but when we started handling the ball better and managing the points a little we were able to force the middle and score a ton of points just going right at their middle," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "Lexi Ross and Skye Gullatt started in the middle for us today and put up big numbers just going right at them. It worked well for us, especially in transition."
Ross, a senior, was the only player in double digits in kills as she recorded 13, which ties her career high. She took 22 swings and had just one error for a .545 hitting percentage. On the weekend Ross had 30 kills on 54 total attempts and committed just two errors for a hitting accuracy of .519.
Gullatt had seven kills in 19 attempts in Saturday's match and had just one miscue at the net (.316 accuracy). The sophomore added two block solos and two block assists.
Freshman Devanne Sours made her second appearance of the season in the match against the Lady Demons and had nine kills. Riddle also added nine kills, nine digs and five block assists.
Hannah Johnson kept New Mexico's pace going offensively, dishing out 37 assists. The redshirt sophomore added 11 digs. She had a double-double in each of the weekend's matches.
Lovato anchored the Lobo defense with 23 digs, including 12 in the first set. The senior Libero had help from freshman outside Julia Warren, who added 14 digs.
Overall, Nelson felt it was a good opening weekend for the Lobos who opened with a sweep over UMKC early Friday afternoon, dropped a 3-2 decision to host Arkansas on Friday night and concluded with Saturday's sweep of Northwestern State.
"Like I said yesterday, I think there were a lot of positives and some things to learn from," Nelson said. "This weekend provided a lot for us in terms of what to work on: opportunities in games, tight games, coming from behind, and then today, managing a game."
Idaho State and Georgia Tech join New Mexico and UC RIverside in next weekend's Sheraton Airport Lobo Classic. The Bengals and the Yellowjackets open the weekend at 10:30 a.m., on Friday and are followed by the Lobos vs. HIghlanders at 1 p.m., Friday evening features a 5 p.m. MT contest of Georgia Tech vs. UC Riverside and UNM faces Idaho State at 7:30 p.m.
The second day of the tourney will have just two games, UC Riverside vs. Idaho State at 11:30 a.m., and Lobos vs. Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. All times are Mountain Standard time.
Set One - Lobos 25, Northwestern State 23
A block by Riddle and Gullatt put the Lobos on the board after the Lady Demons opened with four unanswered points. The Lobos used attacks by Ross, Riddle and Gullatt to tie the score at 6-6. The teams traded points before Northwestern State went on a 5-1 run and moved the mark to 13-8.
A service error by the Demons snapped the run and a kill by Riddle set the Lobos in motion and on a seven-point run to move the mark to 15-13. Highlights from the Lobo charge were two kills by freshman Devanne Sours, a block by Gullatt and Riddle and a kill from Gullatt.
A few plays later, the set was locked at 17-all until an attack error, a Ross-Warren block and a Riddle-Ross block moved the Lobos ahead, 20-17. A kill by Warren added more distance between the Demons and it looked like New Mexico would close it out, however, Northwestern State fought back to within one, 24-23, before a quick set by Johnson was crushed by Ross to give the Lobos the game.
Ross led all players in the set with five kills. The Lobos outhit Northwestern State, 15 kills to nine.
Set Two - Lobos 25, Northwestern State 14
Northwestern State jumped to a 9-2 lead in the second set before a kill by Riddle put the Lobos back on track and sent New Mexico on a 23-5 run to close out the set, 25-14. Key in the run was tough serving by Lovato and strong net play from Ross, Riddle and Warren.
Riddle had four kills in game two while Sours and Warren added three apiece.
Set Three - Lobos 25, Northwestern State 19
The teams traded points with neither squad pulling more than two points away from the other until the Lobos pulled ahead, 13-9 thanks to two kills by Gullatt and two miscues by Northwestern State.
The Lady Demons used a pair of blocks and some kills to tie the set again at 14-all and hung around a few points until three quick kills by Ross followed by a kill from Gullatt made it 20-17, Lobos. New Mexico closed out the set with consistent play, ending the set and match on a Gullatt solo block, 25-19.
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