Aggie Volleyball Sweeps Chicago State

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State volleyball team got its third home sweep of a Western Athletic Conference opponent this season after defeating Chicago State, 25-13, 25-19, 25-15, on Saturday afternoon inside the Pan American Center.

The Aggies pick up their 11th win of the season (11-7) and move to 5-2 in WAC play. The Cougars remain winless in conference play at 0-7 and fall to 6-15 overall.

As has been the case all season, defense was once again served for NM State. The Aggies held Chicago State to a .034 hitting percentage, the fifth time this season the conference leader in the category has held an opponent under a .100 hitting percentage. NM State, meanwhile, hit at a season-high .398 hitting percentage. The Aggies also outblocked the Cougars 7-3.

Freshman outside hitter Kassandra Tohm led the NM State attack, tying a career-high with 12 kills while also setting a career high with a match-high .524 hitting percentage. Junior Gwen Murphy added nine kills while fellow middle hitter Sasha-Lee Thomas added another seven.

The Aggies two setters, Taylor Livoti and Ashlyn Brown, each finished with double-figure assists, Livoti with a match-high 19 and Brown with 10 assists. Libero Hannah Walker led the way with seven digs while Livoti and sophomore Aleisha Coates each added five digs apiece.

“We got Bradley (Nash) on the right and K.C. (Tohm) more on the left and that worked well,” Aggie head coach Mike Jordan said. “Aleisha made a couple of good plays, so we’re getting contributions, we just need a little more consistency. We missed a couple of defensive assignments, we got to get that corrected, but other than that I think we played well.”

The Cougars began the match by marking the first two points of set number one, but NM State would go on a 9-2 run thereafter to take a 9-4 lead.

With the Aggie lead cut to 11-9, NM State would ice the set by going on an eight-point rally to take a commanding 19-9 advantage. The last three points of the set would also belong to the Aggies as the home team took set one 25-13.

NM State held Chicago State to a -.086 hitting percentage in the first set while it hit .385. Murphy and Thomas each had three kills in the set and the Aggies had a combined five blocks.

The Cougars once again got out to a 2-0 lead in set two, and this time they would not give up the lead as easily, battling NM State throughout.

The visiting team would take a 6-2 lead before the Aggies scored four-straight to tie the set at 6-6. The back-and-forth set would also see ties at eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17.

The Aggies, who have had trouble closing out sets this season, would finish this set on an 8-2 run, including once again marking the final-three points, to take set two 25-19 and take a 2-0 lead. After two sets, Chicago State had a .000 hitting percentage.

NM State finally marked the first point of a set after marking point one in the third set, only to see the Cougars rattle off four-straight points. But the Aggies answered with a five-point stretch of their own that included a couple of big kills by Murphy.

Up by one at 13-12 midway through, NM State marked its second five-point rally of the set, this time aided by two service aces by Freshman Jordan Abalos, to take command of the match at 18-12.

Two-consecutive kills by Thomas opened up the Aggie lead to 21-14 as the home team would go on to win the set 25-15 and pick up their eighth sweep of the season.

NM State has a quick turnaround and must now focus on facing rival New Mexico in a couple of days. The Aggies and Lobos will square off for state supremacy on Monday in Albuquerque with a match beginning at 7 p.m. (MDT). The match will be aired live over the Las Cruces radio airwaves on KGRT AM 570 with Adam Young on the call.