ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Jon Newman Gonchar said he had to hit the ground running when he came to the University of New Mexico to be head volleyball coach back in January.
Gonchar replaced Jeff Nelson, who was fired in December 2018. Gonchar likes to play a different style, and said he spent the offseason teaching the players the nuances of the game under the way he likes to play.
Gonchar likes to go fast.
“First and foremost we have defensive intensity,” said Gonchar. “We get after it. We’re disciplined defenders, but we have incredible intensity. The second piece of that is our Lobo fast, and we think we’re going to play faster than any team in the Mountain West Conference. We play from pin to pin as fast as anybody in the league, if not faster.”
The transition from Nelson to Gonchar appears to have gone very well.
“The transition has been awesome,” said senior outside hitter Tai Bierria. “He’s my third coach in my four years, and he’s probably come in and has made the biggest impact. He has a clear vision of what he wants this team to look like, and you know, we all follow and we all buy into this vision that he has.”
The Lobos will showcase their talent in an exhibition game at Dreamstyle Arena Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Lobos’ first regular-season match will not come until the following Friday when they play at the Northern Colorado Tournament in Greeley, Colorado. The Lobos will spend the first month of the season on the road.
“Most people say, ‘You are going on the road for four straight weekends, what a challenge,'” said Gonchar. “We say, let’s rise to that. Let’s go get better because, listen, when we play in the Mountain West Conference, we are going to have to go on the road.”
Gonchar has seven new players on the team and six returners, including All-Conference standout Lauren Twitty. She, like Gonchar, believes the game on the road will be beneficial, especially when Mountain West Conference play starts.
“It’s awesome that we’re traveling a lot for preseason, getting the freshmen used to that,” said Twitty.