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Aggie Volleyball Sweeps UT Pan American | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

Aggie Volleyball Sweeps UT Pan American

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Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State volleyball team made it 11-consecutive Western Athletic Conference wins inside the Pan American Center after defeating Texas-Pan American in straight sets on Thursday night, 25-21, 25-16, 25-23.

The Aggies earn their 10th win of the season (10-6) and improve to 4-1 in WAC play while the Broncs fall to 4-15 and 1-4 in the conference.

NM State once again showed why they lead the WAC in opponent’s hitting percentage and are 17th in the nation in the category, holding UTPA to a .136 percentage while hitting at a .276 rate itself.

“We passed the ball fairly well and got some good performances from a couple of the blockers,” Aggie head coach Mike Jordan said. “I’d like to see them capitalize a little more on the one-on-one opportunities, but I think we played good defense. We’re really working hard at it, I think assignment volleyball is the most important thing and we’re getting better.”

Junior Gwen Murphy marked a team-high 10 kills on 14 attempts for a .571 hitting percentage, the highest hitting percentage this season for any Aggie. Fellow juniors Nathalie Castellanos and Andrea Tauai were right behind Murphy with nine and eight kills respectively.

Setters Taylor Livoti and Ashlyn Brown each finished with 18 assists while junior Bradley Nash and freshman Ariadnne Sierra, making her first start for the Aggies, both finished with a match-high 10 digs.

NM State started off slow out of the gate in set one. The Aggies were doubled up early 8-4. UTPA maintained its four-point lead throughout the middle portion of the set, leading 17-13 to force a timeout by Jordan.

NM State, however, scored three-straight points coming out of the timeout to pull within 17-16. The three-point rally would be the first of three for the Aggies during a stretch in which they outscored the Broncs 9-2 to overtake the visiting team 22-19.

The final two points of the set would come NM State’s way as the Aggies rallied to win the first set 25-21. Murphy and Tauai each had five kills in the set and NM State outhit UTPA .359 to .150. Castellanos also came up with three momentum-shifting kills in the set.

The Aggies showed their defensive prowess in the second set, holding the Broncs to a .029 hitting percentage. Trailing 4-6, NM State used a match-high seven-point rally to open up an 11-6 lead. UTPA struggled to find an open lane for a kill throughout the rally.

A 6-1 run later in the set gave the Aggies a 21-12 lead. The home squad would cruise from there for a 2-0 lead, winning set two 25-16.

Although the match was seemingly in hand for NM State, the Broncs would not go quietly in the third set. Every time the Aggies seemed to be pulling away, UTPA would string a couple of points to pull closer.

The final set saw a total of 10 ties. With NM State leading 21-19, the Broncs would mark three-straight points to take a 22-21 lead. Yet, again a Jordan timeout would prove timely, as the Aggies came out of the timeout and marked three-straight points of their own to get to match point at 24-22. After a UTPA point, Castellanos closed out the match with a big cross-court kill that gave NM State the straight-set victory.

Thursday’s match was the only one for NM State this week. The Aggies continue their three-match homestand with two matches next week. The Aggies take on WAC-leading Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday, Oct. 16, beginning at 7 p.m. (MDT) and then face Chicago State on Saturday, Oct. 18, with a match slated for a noon start.