Junior Ashton Hansen Hosford led BYU with seven kills on .500 hitting with four blocks at New Mexico. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
ALBUQUERQUE -- The No. 21 BYU women’s volleyball team ran into a buzz saw Thursday night as the Cougars fell in three sets (25-22, 25-19, 25-17) at New Mexico. The win improves the Lobos to 13-2 on the year and 3-1 in the Mountain West Conference while BYU falls to 9-4 overall and 2-2 in league action.
“We just didn’t have it tonight,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “Hopefully, this was a low point for us, and we can learn from it and come out roaring. We can only go up from here.”
Senior Rachel Dyer and junior Ashton Hansen Hosford led the way for BYU with seven kills each. Hosford also posted team highs in hitting at .500 and blocks with four while Dyer tallied three service aces for the Cougars. Playing just her second match as the starting libero, sophomore Melissa Lake notched 14 digs for BYU. New Mexico senior outside hitter Jeanne Fairchild led all players with 16 kills.
In an opening set that lived up to the billing, the two teams battled to a 6-6 tie until the Cougars put together three straight points including back-to-back aces from Dyer to take their first lead of the match. The advantage was short-lived, however, as the Lobos quickly fought back and clawed their way to a 19-14 lead. But from there it was the Cougars who were able to respond and climb back with an 8-3 run that saw the set tied at 22-22. Hosford was particularly impressive during the streak as she put down three kills to further the BYU momentum. After seeing their lead disappear, the Lobos took a time-out at 22-22 and came out firing, putting away three kills on the next three balls to take the set 25-22.
Set two began with a similar battle until four straight Cougar points gave BYU a 12-10 lead after an ace from Kiana Rogers. However, a 13-11 advantage was the last lead the Cougars would see as a prolonged 12-4 Lobo run established control of the set for New Mexico at 23-17. From there, it was a simple matter of trading points until the Lobos were able to seal the 25-19 win. BYU hit -.079 in the set while New Mexico recorded five blocks.
Perhaps sensing victory, the Lobos came out firing on all cylinders in set three, running out to a 12-6 lead. The Cougars fought valiantly but could not find the answers on offense or defense. The BYU block began to come to life late in the set, but it was just too little too late for the Cougars. UNM’s Fairchild made it look easy as she found seams and put down kill after kill to help the Lobos seal the match with a 25-17 win.
BYU will stay on the road to take on TCU Saturday. The match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. CT and can be heard tape-delayed at 4:30 MT on BYU Radio.