The Daily Aggie

The Daily Aggie :: 09/21/12

The Aggie volleyball team survived another tough test last night. Louisiana Tech gave the Aggies all they could handle for three out of four sets last night including a stunning rally from down 20-11 beat the Aggies 25-23 in set one. Last night was as good as we've seen Louisiana Tech play against the Aggies for an entire match. As we noted last night, the Lady Techsters have never taken more than one set off the Aggies in a match since the Aggies joined the WAC back in the 2005 season. However, last night not only did they win set one but they had the Aggies on the ropes in set two up 24-22 before the Aggies got four straight points to win the set 26-24. The Aggies dominated set three winning 25-12 with that set looking much more like what we normally see from an Aggie/Techster matchup. Set four was another close one with Louisiana Tech leading 19-15 and 20-17. The Aggies served tough, got Louisiana Tech out of system and won seven of the final eight points.

While the Aggies improved to 3-0 and stay atop the WAC standings, it wasn't easy. One thing we're seeing early in the conference season is that no team can be taken lightly on any night. Not that this wasn't the case before, however, there have been some teams historically that have been as close to guaranteed wins as you can get, Louisiana Tech being one of them.

Last night around the WAC was an example of that as Seattle took Utah State to five sets rallying from down 0-2 and they had a couple match points against the Aggies in set five before USU finally ended it. San Jose State stunned Idaho sweeping the Vandals for the first time since 2006 and did so rather easily winning 25-15, 25-14 and 28-26. The Spartans continue to improve each year. Denver swept UT Arlington last night with the first two sets going to extra points.

It's shaping up to be an entertaining conference season and as we noted earlier this week, protecting home court this year will be even more important than ever.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/19/12

It's another busy week for the Aggies with the volleyball team returning home (finally) and the football team taking on in-state rival New Mexico on Saturday. Menawhile, the soccer team travels to Lubbock to take on the Red Raiders in the final non-conference match of the regular season.

First off, Aggie volleyball finally returns to the friendly confines of the Pan Am. They've only played three matches at home this season and we're already two-thirds the way through September. The Aggies shook off some sluggishness against Seattle and then held off a game Idaho squad to return home at 2-0 in league play. Life on the road in conference play is never easy.

This week the Aggies host UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech, a pair of teams that played each other last week with the Mavericks besting the Lady Techsters.

With a conference title and return trip to the NCAA tournament set as goals for this season the Aggies must take care of business at home. One thing that was noted by head coach Mike Jordan in last week's interview was that the Aggies haven't lost to any "bad" teams this season and that, no disrespect to UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech, is something that the Aggies must continue to be able to boast. Losing to lower RPI teams (such as UTA, LA Tech, Seattle, etc) can quickly erase any positives built up by the solid non-confernece showing. The Aggies also really need the teams they beat in the non-conference to keep winning (and in some cases, start winning and at an accelerated rate, we're looking at you Cincinnati and North Dakota State).

A couple of weeks ago on the weekly podcast, we compared what the Aggie volleyball team did in terms of scheduling and winning with what Aggie baseball did with their schedule in the non-conference. The one thing that really helped the Aggie baseball team is that including going out and winning big games in non-conference, their opponents went on and had solid seasons and there were times when the Aggies lost and still either held steady or gained in RPI points just because of what their opponents were doing that same weekend.

The same is going to need to happen for Aggie volleyball because the WAC, just as with baseball, doesn't carry a ton of RPI points which makes winning in league (and not losing to bottom tier conference teams) that much more important.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/17/12

It's rivalry week Part II in Las Cruces. The Aggies and Lobos clash this Saturday for state bragging rights. The Aggies are hoping for a fourth consecutive victory over the Lobos and are looking to erase the bitter taste of defeat suffered at the hands of the UTEP Miners on Saturday.

The UTEP was not at all what the Aggies were hoping for. They fell behind 20-0 in the first quarter and 27-0 before finally getting on the board in the second quarter. Unfortunately the Aggie defense did nothing to stop the UTEP offense in the first half and even though they made adjustments at halftime it was a classic example of too little too late.

There were a few things that were disconcerting in the first half. First, concerned with UTEP's rushing attack and big play ability in the passing game, the Aggie defensive played off the Miners giving them about an eight or nine yard cushion off the line of scrimmage. While on the outset it may not sound like a bad gameplan, the Miners quickly found the counterattack to the gameplan and exploited it to no end. Our problem is not with the gameplan itself but with the lack of urgency in adjusting to UTEP's readily apparent ability to exploit said gameplan. The Miners moved the ball with ease throughout the first half and the Aggies' best defense was UTEP not executing.

There was one play in particular that was exceedingly frustrating and we'll let Teddy Feinberg tell the story (from his blog post yesterday): Easily the most frustrating play came with the ball at the Aggie 32-yard line, when officials threw flags as the Miners snapped the ball. NMSU's defensive backs either assumed it was a false start on UTEP or thought they heard a whistle during the sequence, and stopped playing. Quarterback Nick Lamaison obliged by throwing to a wide open Jordan Leslie in the end zone for a touchdown as UTEP went ahead 20-0.

Whether the Aggies heard a whistle or not you've got to finish the play. No excuses.

It was not all gloom and doom (though it certainly seemed that way). The Aggies came out strong in the third quarter and cut the UTEP lead to just 13 points and certainly had UTEP fans feeling a bit nervous. Unfortunately, allowing a big kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff, followed by a deep ball down the sideline (which may or may not have been caught with a sliver of a toe out of bounds by the UTEP receiver) ended the Aggies' rally. In that situation, having clawed back into the game, the last thing you can do is let UTEP get a big return on a kickoff and then score three plays later and the score was 34-14. Another UTEP touchdown in the fourth and the game was clearly out of reach at 41-14. The Aggies did add two late touchdowns to make the score look respectable at 41-28 but just as the Aggies did to the Lobos last year, the game wasn't really in doubt and the final score is a bit deceiving.

There was one play in the game that deserves mention and it stands as our play of the game. In the second quarter running back Akeelie Mustafa took a handoff from Andrew Manley, tried to run up the middle, spun around, reversed course and headed right to the outside. For all intents and purposes it was going to be another loss of yardage on an Aggie running play. Out of nowhere Austin Franklin comes barreling in and absolutely de-cleats a UTEP defender and Mustafa is able to turn the corner and gain two or three yards. At the end of the day it was an insignificant play in terms of the final result but it showed that the Aggies had not given up on the game despite being down big.

It's time to flush the game and get ready for UNM. Sadly, we're three games in and the Aggies are facing a must-win game. If the Aggies don't win the UNM game, there's a distinct possibility of a hangover from a UNM loss carrying over into the UTSA game. The Roadrunners will come to Las Cruces likely at 4-0 (the most deceiving 4-0 record of ALL time) looking to make a statement and pick up their first WAC win (and really, their first true good win of the year). After that the Aggies will have to head to Moscow, a place where they've had little success since joining the WAC. Following that road trip they face the murderous five game stretch of Utah State, LA Tech, Auburn, San Jose State, BYU. These next three games represent the Aggies' best chances for wins but it all starts with New Mexico on Saturday. Win that game and they could conceivably win three in a row. Lose that game and they could be staring a 10-game losing streak straight in the face (let's hope that is not the case).

The Aggie soccer team kicked off the Rio Grande Rivalry week by nearly earning a tie with UNM. The Aggies and Lobos were deep into the second overtime and just 1:51 away from ending in a tie before the Lobos scored ending the game in the 108th minute.

It's been a bit of a rough go for the soccer team this year offensively having scored just four goals through nine games, however, they remain competitive. The UNM loss was the Aggies' fourth one-goal loss of the year and their fourth overtime match of the year.

The Aggies continue to put themselves in a position for success but just aren't getting favorable bounces. One thing is certain, this will be a battle tested team when they enter conference play. They've got one more non-conference match, this coming Sunday at Texas Tech. A win or tie would be a tremendous result for the Aggies and could give them a boost for the start of league play.

The Aggie volleyball team returns home this week fresh off of a pair of 3-2 victories on the road. After the first weekend of play just three teams are undefeated in WAC play. The Aggies and Utah State are both 2-0 while UT Arlington (one of this week's opponents) is 1-0. The Aggies will face UTA and Louisiana Tech this week with both matches being played at the Pan Am.

The Aggie cross country teams hosted their home meet this weekend and the Aggie women won their second meet of the season while the men took second place. It was a successful meet for the Aggies with Courtney and Camille Schultz taking second and third individually behind UTEP's Risper Kimaiyo who has a pair of Top 10s and a Top 25 at the NCAA Championships.

Both Aggie teams are ranked regionally with the men coming in at 13th in the always tough Mountain Region and the women holding stead at 9th in the Mountain Region.

The Aggies are off this weekend.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/15/12

It's rivalry gameday! The Aggie football team takes on UTEP tonight in the Sun Bowl as they look to move above .500 for the first time under head coach DeWayne Walker. More on the rivalry game in a minute.

The Aggie soccer team played to a 0-0 tie with Montana yesterday afternoon picking up a solid result against a very good Grizzlies squad. Mikaela Bitner was the star of the game as Montana peppered the goal with 29 shots, 12 of them on goal, Bitner coming up aces every time.

The game did not come without a bit of controversy as Montana appeared to score a game-winning goal in the second overtime period but had it waved off by the referees. This account from postgame writeup from the Montana athletic website describes the situation:

"Montana did find the back of the net in the second overtime, but the potential game-winner was waved off by referee Jim Carter. The Grizzlies took a long shot that was caught by Bitner just as a group of attackers descended upon her.

Depending on a person's perspective, Bitner either fumbled the ball to the ground on the catch, which allowed Akins to swoop in and score the loose ball, or else Bitner dropped it only after she was in possession and run into. Carter ruled the latter, and that was Montana's final opportunity."

Whether it was the correct call or not does not matter. The Aggies came away with a tie against a very good team and it's just another piece to build on as the Aggies continue to try to build some momentum heading into WAC play.

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tonight after surviving a scare from Seattle on Thursday night. The Aggies take on the Idaho Vandals tonight. Idaho comes into the match off a commanding three set sweep over Denver on Thursday night. The win snapped a seven match losing streak for Idaho, however, each of those seven losses had come at the hands of teams with winning records including three straight over the weekend in Hawai'i where they faced #9 Hawai'i, defending national champion UCLA (ranked #3 at the time) and San Diego State (who was receiving votes in the Top 25 poll).

The Vandals are led by their own version of Meredith Hays, senior outside hitter Allison Baker (Walker). Baker is averaging 4.61 kills per set this season (Hays is averaging 4.60 kills per set). Alyssa Schultz is second on the team averaging 2.20 kills per set.

Idaho is a good blocking team averaging 2.16 blocks per set, however, the Aggies this season are the better blocking team averaging 2.47 blocks per set.

The Vandals have pushed the Aggies over course of the past three seasons and the Aggies have left Moscow with 3-1 losses in two of the past three seasons. This will be another stiff test for New Mexico State but coming off the 3-2 win over Seattle (a team who we expected them to sweep) we fully expect the Aggies to come out focused and really try to take it to Idaho.

Match time is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. (MDT) with Live Stats available via the Idaho athletic website.

Back to Aggie football and the Battle of I-10. On paper everything points to a UTEP victory. The Miners, despite coming in 0-2, appear to have a very solid defense, their offense, a bit schizophrenic in back-to-back games has had trouble finding the endzone, however, being back at home against a non-BCS team, one would think that UTEP's offense is licking it's chops to face a defense that just surrendered 51 points.

That being said, we have this feeling that we cannot explain that says that the Aggies are going to win this game. It goes against all logic but we just have this feeling that the Aggies have been playing a little rope-a-dope this week. One of the biggest things that sticks out in our minds is that generally everyone has been patting the Miners on the back for playing close (but losing) to a pair of BCS conference teams. That's great but it can also be a bit dangerous. Recall that last year everyone was patting Minnesota on the back for going to Los Angeles and playing the Trojans close. The very next week the Aggies went into Minneapolis and shocked the Gophers 28-21. Are we saying that's what is going to happen here today? Maybe yes, maybe no but it certainly wouldn't surprise us one bit.

The keys for the Aggies as always will be to establish a run game early, keep the offense balanced and keep UTEP's defense guessing. Tiger Powell may be the key to winning this game for the Aggies. We really believe that if he rushes for 80-plus yards in this game that the Aggies will win.

Second, everyone knows that Andrew Manley loves to throw the deep ball. In this game, we would expect UTEP to do everything possible to take that away from him. That means Manley will need to do a good job of checking down and using the short and intermediate routes that are available. We would expect guys like Kemonte Bateman, Trevor Walls and Jerrel Brown to make major contributions.

Defensively this is going to be as big a challenge for the defense as last week was. How do you prepare for a team that has shown two different proficiencies in two different weeks? Which Miner offense will show up? The one that ran all over the Oklahoma defense but couldn't pass the ball? Or the one that racked up nearly 300 yards passing against Ole Miss but couldn't run the ball?

The Aggies obviously need to limit their own mistakes. Keep the self-inflicted wounds to a minimum. That means not only limiting turnovers but also limiting drive-killing penalties (or penalties that keep a UTEP drive going).

Our prediction? An Aggie win, 27-23 with the Aggies scoring a late game-winning touchdown and the Aggie defense sealing the win for the Aggies late.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MDT) kickoff. The game can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network as well as streaming online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/14/12

The Aggie volleyball team escaped a big upset last night rallying from down 0-2 to defeat WAC newcomer Seattle in five sets. The Aggies dropped the first two sets 25-21 and 25-23 but then rallied to win three straight, 25-19, 25-20 and 15-12. Meredith Hays had 18 kills, 13 digs and four blocks while Lauren Loerch added 13 kills. Seattle was led by Kaytlyn Dill who finished with 17 kills but also had 16 attack errors. Allison Farley had the best night offensively of any player finishing with 16 kills while posting a .462 hitting percentage. As a team the Aggies finished with a season-high 23 total team blocks including a dozen by Desiree Scott (two solo blocks and ten block assists).

At the end of the day it's a 'W' but the Aggies certainly got a scare from a team that wasn't expected to do much (picked to finish ninth out of ten teams). One thing is for sure, this is a mentally tough Aggie team. We've seen them battle back from big deficits and now we've seen them battle back from an 0-2 hole on the road. Tomorrow night's match against Idaho will most certainly be another tough match but such is life on the road in the WAC.

The Aggie soccer team returns to action tonight as they play their third match this week in what is part of a brutal stretch of five matches in eleven days. The Aggies are in dire need of a victory and some positive momentum as they draw closer to WAC play. The good news is that the Aggies are coming off a spirited effort against UTEP in what head coach Blair Quinn called the best match the team has played all season. Hopefully they can build on that and pull off a win in Missoula today.

It won't be easy. The Grizzlies are 4-4 on the season and oddly enough, they're making their home debut this afternoon against the Aggies. Like the Aggies the Griz haven't had much offense this season averaging just one goal per match. For the Aggies they'll need to keep tabs on Montana senior forward Erin Craig who has scored four of those eight goals.

And for the Aggies, they've really struggled to find the back of the net having scored just four goals this season, two of them off the foot of Layla Todd.

This is a match that certainly on paper that the Aggies have a great chance of winning. The Aggie defense has been solid and we have a feeling that their offense is poised to break out and post a two or three goal match.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. (MDT) and Live Stats are available via the GoGriz.com website.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/13/12

The Aggie volleyball team kicks off conference play tonight when they take on Seattle. The Redhawks are first-year WAC participants, one of five new teams the Aggies will face in conference play this year along with UTSA, UT Arlington, Texas State and Denver. The Redhawks are 5-5 on the season but come into the match with a little bit of momentum after rallying from a 2-1 deficit to defeat former WAC member Boise State 3-2 (25-22,24-26,23-25,25-22,15-13). The Redhawks have faced some pretty good competition in the non-conference including coming off a weekend in which they played Washington and Long Beach State (losing in three sets in both matches).

The Redhawks are led offensively by outside hitters Kaytlyn Dill and Sarah Jaeckel. Dill is averaging 3.40 kills per set and Jaeckel is averaging 3.14 kills per set. Jaeckel is also the sister of former Florida Gator standout Kristy Jaeckel.

Defensively the Redhawks are averaging 11.62 digs per set and 1.42 blocks per set. Individually Lani Beadle lead the way averaging 2.95 digs per set.

While the Aggies can't afford to overlook anyone, this is a match that the Aggies should win and one that ideally they should sweep, particularly with a tough match against Idaho looming on Saturday night.

Tonight's match is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. (MDT) first serve with live stats available via the Seattle athletic website.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/12/12

The Aggie soccer team is back in action today as they host I-10 rival UTEP. The Aggies and Miners have a short but already fairly crazy history. In the inaugural game the Aggies, big-time underdogs playing in their first ever college soccer match, pushed UTEP to overtime down in El Paso. They ended up losing 1-0 on somewhat questionable terms (it appeared that one of UTEP's players knocked then goal keeper Katie Graul out of the way) but it was a loss nonetheless.

Then in the first ever meeting in Las Cruces, the Aggies and Miners went into halftime with UTEP up 1-0 but a torrential downpour (combined with some lightning in the area) caused a massive delay. The game was not restarted and it was not officially recorded in the books. Essentially the teams played one half but officially they didn't play at all.

Last year the Aggies made their second sojourn down to El Paso and this time it was the Aggies' first ever match under now head coach Blair Quinn. The Aggies lost 2-0 this time but they were tied at 0-0 for the first 75 minutes of the game. UTEP scored with the 76th and 82nd minutes to make the score look a little more lopsided than the game actually was.

That brings us to this season. It will be another first for these two teams. The Aggies and Miners will face each other for the first time on true Aggie home turf. The Aggies' home opening weekend was a bit of a disappointment in that they came away with a pair of losses including an overtime loss against Sam Houston State which spoiled the christening of the Aggie Soccer Stadium.

So as we noted on Monday, the Aggies are hoping the third time is the charm. This will be the third time these two teams have faced each other (officially) and it will also be the third match for the Aggies in their new home.

First and foremost the Aggies need to get some offense going. Their defense has played well this season. Prior to Sunday's match in which they conceded four goals, the Aggies had given up just five goals through the first five matches but they had scored just two goals. The Aggie defense will have their hands full keeping UTEP out of the net. On Sunday against the Sam Houston State, the Miners outshot their opponent 21-6 and 10-3 in terms of shots on goal.

Offensively the Aggies need to maintain possession and most of all they need to be dangerous in their attack. This is something Coach Quinn has talked about all season long and it's something that is clearly a work in progress. We'd love nothing more than to see the Aggie offense break out for two or three goals today.

The match is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. (MDT) kickoff. Streaming video will be available for the match via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/10/12

It's rivalry week! The Aggie football and soccer teams both face UTEP this week in the annual renewal of the Battle of I-10. For the soccer team perhaps the third time will be the charm for a couple of different reasons. First, it will be the Aggie soccer team's third home game in their new stadium and they'll be looking for their first victory and what better way to notch it than over the rival Miners. Second, it will officially be the third meeting between these two schools. If you recall, the second meeting between the two clubs was affected by a torrential downpour at halftime and due to the long weather delay, was never restarted and thus did not count as an official match.

The UTEP match begins the final stretch of non-conference matches and is a brutally difficult 11 day stretch that will see them play UTEP at home and then Montana, New Mexico and Texas Tech on the road before opening up conference play. The combined record of the four teams is 18-12-1. If you include the first conference game against Utah State, the Aggies' next five opponents are 23-13-3. A tough stretch indeed.

For the Aggie football team this is the stretch of games that if they're going to make a run at a bowl game, this next four game stretch is where the winning needs to begin. The Aggies' next four sets up as follows: at UTEP, home to New Mexico, home to UT San Antonio and at Idaho. The Aggies need to go at least 3-1 during that stretch if they hope to go bowling this season because following those four games is a stretch of five that includes: Utah State, Louisiana Tech, Auburn, San Jose State and BYU. At this point, while we're hopeful, it's a bit unrealistic to expect that the Aggies would emerge from that five game stretch with more wins than losses which makes it even more important that the Aggies make the most of the next four opportunities.

So what to make of this weekend's game against UTEP in the Sun Bowl? One thing is for sure, this might be the Miners' best team in a while. Even though they're 0-2, they've shown incredibly well against the two BCS opponents they faced. After three quarters the Miners trailed Oklahoma 10-7 and after three quarters the Miners trailed Ole Miss 21-10.

One thing we don't know is what to expect from the UTEP offense. Against OU the Miners threw for just 48 yards but they ran for 207. However, against Ole Miss the script was flipped and the Miners ran for just 37 yards but threw for 274.

And for the Aggies, can they put together a complete game? Against Sacramento State they looked great for three quarters (first, second and fourth) but had a poor third quarter showing. Against Ohio they looked great for two, the first and second, but again had a poor third quarter showing. The team has now been outscored 33-9 in the third quarter this season. Clearly the Aggies have the firepower on offense to be in every game and win a lot of those games. The question now becomes, how do they sustain that for four full quarters? If they can find the answer to that question quickly then this next stretch of four games could be what propels them into a bowl game for the first time since 1960.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/08/12

It's game day once again. The Aggie football and volleyball teams are both in action on the road and both have gargantuan tasks ahead of them. The football team is in search of their first 2-0 start to the season since 1999. They'll face an Ohio Bobcats squad that is coming off their biggest win in program history defeating Penn State last week. For the Aggies it's a chance to test their offense against a stout Ohio defense. The Aggies really need to establish some sort of running game early in this game whether it's by opening things up with the passing game or whether it's simply just trying to pound the ball but one thing is for sure, the Aggies need to be able to average more than the 2.5 yards per carry that they averaged against a mediocre Sacramento State defense.

It will be interesting to see what the Bobcat defense gives the Aggies. You have to think that they've practiced all week to not give the Aggies anything deep which means that the Aggies and Andrew Manley will need to be patient in the pass game and work the short and intermediate routes, something that they didn't do a whole lot against Sacramento State simply because they had such big mismatches against the Sac State secondary. It will also be interesting to see how early the Bobcats start to pressure Andrew Manley. Once the Hornets started getting some pressure on Manley in the second half was when the Aggie offense stalled out a bit.

Defensively the Aggies primary job is to contain Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton. He's a big running threat to go along with his solid passing ability. As we told the readers of The Post in our scouting report with them, if the Aggies can hold Tettleton to under 50 yards rushing and also keep Ohio running back Beau Blankenship under 100 yards rushing, we feel like the Aggies can really be competitive in this game.

The game is scheduled for a 5:00 p.m. (MDT) kickoff and will be aired online on ESPN3. Radio coverage is available on the Aggie Sports Network in New Mexico and streaming audio will be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie volleyball team is also back in action this morning as they face #12 Pepperdine. The Aggies are coming off a 3-0 sweep of Florida International while Pepperdine is coming off a sweep at the hands of Colorado State.

The Waves' Jasmine Orozco led Pepperdine with 13 kills and hit .360 while Alyssa Mason hit .583 with eight kills. Pepperdine hit .266 in the match which isn't terrible but still lost in three sets.

For the Aggies it will be all about defense. Coach Jordan was not pleased with the Aggies' defensive efforts last Saturday nor was he particularly pleased with the Aggies' defense in yesterday's sweep of FIU.

A win today would be huge for the Aggies' already solid resume. The match is scheduled for an 11:00 a.m. (MDT) first serve with Live Stats available via the CSU athletic website.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/07/12

The Aggie volleyball and soccer teams are back in action starting today as we kick off a busy weekend of Aggie sports.

Aggie soccer will play their very first home game in their new facility today when they host the Sam Houston State Bearkats at 4:00 p.m. (MDT). The Aggies are coming off a weekend in which they picked up a tie against UC Riverside and a victory over Southern Utah, their first win of the young season. We spoke yesterday with head coach Blair Quinn about the team's weekend as well as this weekend's games and got some insights into the new Aggie soccer stadium and how it will help provide his team with an edge in competition. You'll want to be sure to check out that interview. As far as today's competition, the Bearkats come into the match with a 2-4 record but don't be deceived. Three of the Bearkats four losses are by one goal apiece and their fourth loss was a including a 2-0 loss to No. 16 Rutgers in which they shut out the Scarlet Knights for the first 61 minutes.

According to Coach Quinn the Bearkats play an identical system to the Aggies, a 4-4-3 (four backs, four mids and three forwards) and those type of matchups are difficult in that since you're both playing the same system the game comes down to who can execute the system better and possess the ball longer.

Last weekend was also a breakthrough for the Aggies in that they scored their first two goals of the season, one by Layla Todd against UC Riverside late in regulation time to force overtime and the second coming off the foot of Katelyn Smith (nicknamed Calvin by the team since there are two Katie Smiths on the team) against Southern Utah.

Coach Quinn said the team was a bit unfortunate not to have scored more than one goal against UC Riverside noting that the team created several dangerous chances and four or five breakaways. Against SUU the goal came against the run of play and he said he felt like the team had been outplayed for the ten minutes prior leading up to the goal by Smith.

The funny thing about soccer having watched quite a bit over the past couple of summers is that unlike a lot of sports, soccer seems to be a game where you can be getting dominated on the field or you can be doing the dominating and yet the score can still be 0-0 or as is sometimes the case, you can be dominant the entire game and still lose or you can be getting dominated the entire time and win. All it takes is one lucky bounce or as Coach Needham was so fond of saying, one moment of brilliance, to change everything.

Today's game is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. kickoff and if you're unable to make it to the game it will be streamed online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie volleyball team begins their most difficult weekend of the season tonight as they take on Florida International to kick off the CSU Rams Volleyball Classic. The Aggies will face #12 Pepperdine and Colorado State (just outside the Top 25) tomorrow and Sunday respectively.

The Aggies suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday falling 3-1 at the hands of Northwestern. The Aggies did not play as well as head coach Mike Jordan felt they should defensively last Saturday in both the match against Drake and the match against Northwestern even though the Aggies defeated Drake. The Aggies had a chance to take the Northwestern match to a fifth set but a couple of passing issues on serve receive when the team was up 24-22 in set four resulted in the Aggies losing the set 27-25 and the match 3-1.

The Aggies have been focusing on their defense this week in practice and Coach Jordan is hoping to see improvement in their digging as well as their blocking.

Tonight's opponent FIU comes into the match with a 2-4 record but three of those losses are to Florida, Florida State and Georgia. Opponents are averaging 2.4 blocks per set against the Panthes and that could be an area where the Aggies have an advantage with their size. Offensively FIU is led by Marija Prsa at 3.47 kills per set followed by Lucia Castro at 3.14 kills per set. Their attacking percentages aren't great at .201 and .122 respectively. Defensively the Panthers average 11.95 digs per set while the Aggies are at 14.08 digs per set.

This is a match that the Aggies need to come out and take care of business in and not get caught looking ahead to a big day tomorrow against two probably NCAA-bound teams.

The match is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. (MDT) first serve with Live Stats available via the CSU athletic website.

More information can be accessed via CSU's tournament central page.

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