UNM volleyball is sixth in MW poll

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The University of New Mexico Lobo volleyball team is hoping to turn an underwhelming showing in the preseason Mountain West poll into some motivation.

The Lobos finished sixth in the preseason poll, released last week. In that poll, the Colorado State University Rams were selected as the favorite, followed by San Diego State and Wyoming.

The Lobos lost three key players off last season's squad — Kelly Williamson, Ashley Rhoades and Allison Buck — that went 16-14 and finished fifth in MW play, losing in the opening round of the conference tournament to Wyoming.

UNM opens its season with the Lobo Classic tournament, which starts Friday.

This season, Lobo head coach Jeff Nelson decided not to pit a younger, less-experienced team like he has this year, against top-shelf opponents like the program has faced in the recent past.

"I think it's perfect for what this team needs," said Nelson, talking about his regular season schedule. "It doesn't feature the Nebraska or the Stanford of the past couple of years, but I don't think we needed to (play them) right now. We are committed to getting our youth confident at playing college volleyball."

The Lobos are banking on former Roswell star Chantale Riddle, a redshirt sophomore, to step up this season and provide the team with firepower upfront.