Aggie Volleyball Team Dominates UTEP

Written by: Jason Groves/Sun-News Reporter

LAS CRUCES - The I-10 rivalry hasn't proven to be much of a rivalry on the volleyball court.

New Mexico State easily disposed of UTEP in three games, 30-10, 30-20 and 30-26, on Tuesday at the Pan American Center. Tuesday was the Aggies' sixth straight victory over the Miners.

"Either way you look at it, it's a rivalry and it's important to win those rivalries," said Aggies senior middle hitter Kim Oguh, who finished Tuesday's match with seven kills and five block assists. "We have a reputation to uphold and we did that."

The Aggies (8-2) turn their attention from a challenging non-conference schedule to their Western Athletic Conference opener at Fresno State on Thursday, followed by a trip to Nevada on Saturday.

"We are so excited for the conference to start," Oguh said. "That is what all of this hard offseason work is all going toward."

The Miners (6-5) couldn't seem to get established offensively, creating easy kill opportunities for Amber Simpson in the middle and Lindsey Yon on the outside. Yon led the Aggies with 12 kills, hitting .323. Simpson hit .333 and finished with seven kills and two blocks.

Even setter Alyssa Gintant got into the offense. Her lone kill of the night put the Aggies up 18-4 in the first game. The Aggies closed the first game with a 10-3 run. The Aggies outhit the Miners .300 to .-122 in the first game and .277 to .015 for the match.

The Aggies pulled away in the second game with 10-4 run, capped by a Simpson kill to go up 14-8. UTEP closed to 26-20 when Keisha Hyman-Gifth and Patty Jarmoc teamed up on a block, but it was as close as the Miners would come until the third game.

"They were better this year than they were last year," said sophomore outside hitter Krista Altermatt, who finished with six kills. "I think we just didn't have as much energy in the third game as we did in the first two. I think they also picked up their game."

Yon had six of her 12 kills in the third game, helping the Aggies hold their lead throughout the entire game. UTEP closed to 28-25 late in the game. Aggies right-side hitter Anna Callis answered with one of her four block assists. Two points later, UTEP's Catherine Chavez served into the net to end the match. It was one of seven UTEP service errors.

While UTEP struggled serving, the Aggies enjoyed a solid night serving the ball. NMSU libero Krystal Torres had two of the Aggies' five service aces. Inconsistency from the service line has been one of head coach Mike Jordan's focuses lately.

"I think we are improving, but I think it was solid tonight," Jordan said. "You have to serve tough and serve in. If you don't serve tough, as well as in, you can't get them out of system."

Tuesday was just the Aggies third home match of the season, but playing on the road is a challenge Jordan hopes his team embraces.

NMSU split a pair of games last weekend at the Ameritas Players Championship, losing to top-ranked Nebraska in three games on Saturday. Two weeks ago, the Aggies lost to No. 7 Texas in the Houston Invitational.

"This is our fourth straight weekend on the road so we are a little travel weary, which concerns me," Jordan said. "But good teams win on the road."

Jason Groves can be reached at jgroves@lcsun-news.com