The University of New Mexico volleyball program invited me to photograph their MCM Eleganté Lobo Classic on August 21-23, 2010. This year’s tournament was very special as UNM had guests Tulane, Pepperdine and #4 ranked Stanford to participate in the tournament.
Having a top ten team come to your home court in any sport is no small feat, and speaks to the quality of the UNM program. The Lobos have been steadily improving, and with amazing support from the community, all three of the Lobo’s games were high in attendance.
I caught three of the six scheduled games; Stanford vs Pepperdine, UNM vs Pepperdine and UNM vs Stanford. It was a pleasant surprise to watch Pepperdine take Stanford to four sets (mostly from errors by the Cardinals), but Stanford quickly made adjustments and, well, that was that.
I was free to shoot from wherever I choose, so photographically I mixed things up. I got some nice shots, especially during the Stanford/Pepperdine game with my 300mm f/2.8 from the top section of Johnson Gym. I probably should have stuck around up there more, but being on the floor with all the action is the most fun–one can definitely feel the energy. For the floor time, I used mainly my 85mm and 135mm wide open, with my 70-200mm for player close-ups.
The final scheduled game of the tournament happened to be the championship game, pitting UNM against Stanford. Along with 3,831 other eager fans, I watched UNM put up a good fight, but fall to an intimidating Cardinal team in three sets.
I was impressed at the friendly, supportive environment during all the matches, especially during UNM games. Fans are encouraged to come to the floor and greet the players before the match, and the team stuck around long after the game was done, talking and interacting with the fans.
Much thanks to manager Jordie Hadfield, assistant media relations director Judy Wilson and the rest of the UNM family for making me feel at home during my visit!