Article Courtesy: UW Athletics
LARAMIE, Wyo.-(Sept. 19, 2012)-The University of Wyoming Cowgirl volleyball team will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday, Sept. 22 to take on the New Mexico Lobos in a matchup of the top two teams in the Mountain West. Wyoming enters the match with an 11-3 overall record, trailing only New Mexico in the conference, which boasts a 12-2 season record. The Cowgirls have won three-consecutive matches against the Lobos dating back to last season. Historically in MW openers, Wyoming is 2-0 when it opens play against New Mexico and 5-8 overall.
"Going 2-1 last weekend and ending the preseason 11-3 is a great start for us," Wyoming volleyball head coach Carrie Yerty said. "We need be ready for New Mexico because I am expecting this match to be a five-set battle. New Mexico is always strong, especially at home. They have some depth and they will be very aggressive and we have to be at the top of our game to win. I think to get through the conference schedule we need to just stay consistent and execute our game plan like we practice."
Wyoming enters its first MW match of the season coming off a 2-1 weekend at the Ball State Tournament, defeating Wright State and Pittsburgh, before falling to tournament host Ball State. Following the non-conference season, the Cowgirls are in the top three of MW categories. They lead the conference in opponent-hitting percentage allowing .121. They are second in the MW in blocks with 130 total for an average of 2.71 per set. After an excellent hitting weekend, they are now hitting .247 which is also second in the conference. Individually, five Cowgirls rank in the top 10 of their own respective categories. Coming off a MW Player of the Week selection, senior Jodi Purdy is currently fifth in the conference in points per set averaging 3.82. She is also ranked in the top five in service aces with 17 total to average 0.35 per set. Purdy also enters the weekend No. 8 in the conference in kills per set with 3.06. Junior Reese Plante and sophomore Erin Kirby are ranked in the top 10 in blocks and hitting percentage. In hitting percentage, Plante leads the conference with a .399 percentage (93-18-188), while Kirby is sixth with a .338 percentage (74-20-160). Kirby is the Cowgirls top blocker ranking fifth in the conference with 58 total blocks to average 1.26 per set. Plante is one place behind Kirby in sixth, averaging 1.19 blocks per set with 57 total. Junior libero Becky Stewart has been a defensive specialist for the Cowgirls averaging 4.92 digs per set which is the second-best average in the conference. Junior setter Rachel Keyes is currently eighth in the MW averaging 5.72 assists per set.
A Look At The Lobos:
New Mexico enters its first Mountain West game with a league-leading 12-2 record. The Lobos are also 6-1 at home with their only loss coming to Duquesne on Aug. 24 at the Lobo Classic. Prior to Saturday, Sept. 15, the Lobos were on an 11-match winning streak. New Mexico fell 3-0 to Oklahoma on Saturday night.
Leading the Lobo scoring is Chantale Riddle who is averaging 4.33 kills per set and 4.96 points per set. On the season, she has 208 kills and is hitting .277. She is also second on the team averaging 2.33 digs per set. Leading the New Mexico defense is Miquella Lovato who is averaging 4.08 digs per set with 212 total. Two players lead the Lobos in assists. Hannah Johnson is the main setter with 284 on the season to average 5.46 per set, while Jordan Russell also has 245 total assists on the season to average 4.80 per set. In blocking Riddle and Elsa Krieg are leading with 1.04 and 1.06 blocks per set, respectively. As a team, the Lobos are second behind the Cowgirls in opponent hitting percentage allow .123. They lead the conference in service aces with 83 total for an average of 1.60 per set. New Mexico is fourth in the conference in hitting percentage averaging .241.
Wyoming leads the all-time series with New Mexico 37-30, having won three-consecutive games last season. The Cowgirls defeated the Lobos, 3-1, in the first round of the MW Championship last season. The Lobos are led by head coach Jeff Nelson who is in his sixth season at the helm of the program.