Aggie Volleyball Falls In Five Sets To California

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State volleyball team fought and scrapped its way to a five-set match with the Cal Bears on Saturday afternoon during the final match of the NM State Tournament, eventually falling short of a victory, 25-16, 22-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-12.

The Aggies, who move to 3-3 on the season, were up two sets to one but lost the final two sets to the 30th-ranked team in the country. The final set was close throughout, but the Golden Bears marked the final two points of the match to pick up their fifth win.

“It was a little frustrating, but we saw a lot of good things and I like the fight in us,” Aggie head coach Mike Jordan said. “I thought we went after them pretty well, we got off to a bad start in the first set but we took over and seemed like we were in good shape, but give them credit.”

Junior transfer Andrea Tauai had her first double-double as an Aggie after finishing with 16 kills, the team’s most in a match all season, and 14 digs. Also in double-figure kills were junior Bradley Nash with 13, freshman Kassandra Tohm with 12 and junior Gwen Murphy with 11 total kills.

“Andy Tauai did a lot of really good things for us,” Jordan said. “She’s just a workhorse, there’s a lot of fight in her and she brings that to the table.”

Junior outside hitter Nathalie Castellanos also notched a double-double with 24 assists and 12 digs. Setter Taylor Livoti once again led NM State in assists, she finished with 35, and libero Hannah Walker led the team with a match-high 19 digs.

NM State and Cal would play to a 7-7 tie to start the first set, but 14-5 run by the Golden Bears, which started with a 6-0 rally, gave the visiting team a commanding 21-12 lead. Cal would go on to take the set 25-16. Tauai played well in set one as she led the Aggies with four kills.

Set two began much like the first as both teams fought back and forth. NM State would eventually open up a 15-11 lead midway through the set and then use a four-point rally a couple of points later to extend the lead to 19-13. The Golden Bears would cut into the lead, but the Aggies would hold on to tie the match at one set apiece. Murphy and Tohm each had four kills in the set.

NM State would fall down 5-0 in set number three, but the Aggies would bounce back and pull even with Cal at nine after four-straight points. The set would also see ties at 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17 and 18. NM State closed out the set, however, on a 7-2 run with Murphy leading the way with a couple of big kills and a block to close out the set to pull the Aggies within one set of a victory.

Cal would use an early rally to take a 10-5 lead in the fourth set. But NM State would return the favor by also winning 10 of 15 points to tie the set at 15. The Golden Bears would use a late rally, however, to regain control and take set four, 25-20, and force a fifth and deciding set.

The final set was a small sample of the entire match, as both teams seemed to punch and counterpunch with neither wanting to taste defeat. The first-to-15 set had a total of nine ties with the final one coming at 10. Although the Aggies fought till the end, with Castellanos and Nash pulling NM State to within one point of Cal with kills, the Golden Bears would mark the final two points to take the set and the match.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Aggies as NM State co-hosts a tournament with UTEP next weekend. The Aggies will welcome two nationally ranked teams to the Pan American Center as they face Colorado State on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. (MT) and BYU on Saturday, Sept. 13, beginning at noon. Both matches will be televised live in the Las Cruces area on the AggieVision network.