Aggie Volleyball Sweeps Chicago State; Sets Up Showdown For WAC Regular Season Title

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

CHICAGO, IL - The New Mexico State volleyball team set up a showdown for a share of the Western Athletic Conference regular-season crown by easily handling Chicago State on Thursday in straight sets, 25-11, 25-16, 25-11.

The Aggies (16-9) move to 10-3 in WAC play and will face Missouri-Kansas City (23-5) on Saturday for a share of the WAC title on the line. The ‘Roos also won in straight sets on Thursday to move to 11-2 in the conference, a record that includes a win in Las Cruces earlier in the season over NM State.

A win on Saturday in the conference finale will give the Aggies a share of the WAC regular-season title for the second time in the program’s history as they also shared the WAC crown with Hawai’i in 2008. A loss would give UMKC the regular-season title and No. 1 seed in next week’s WAC Tournament and drop NM State to the second seed.

The Aggies did at least clinch a first-round bye in the WAC Tournament with their win on Thursday as NM State will not finish lower than second place in the conference, meaning they are automatically into the semifinal round of the tournament.

If the Aggies and ‘Roos do finish tied for the conference top spot, a list of tiebreakers depending on records versus other conference members will be utilized to determine the No. 1 seed in the tournament. A clearer picture of the tiebreaker scenarios will be established after all of Thursday’s action is finished and will be announced by the conference on Friday morning.

As for the match itself, NM State dominated from start to finish, as it should against a Chicago State (6-23, 0-13 WAC) team that has now lost 15 matches in a row and remains winless in almost two full season of WAC play.

The Aggies hit at a season-high .420 hitting percentage while holding the Cougars to a -.033 percentage, the third time this season the conference leaders in opponent’s hitting percentage have held an opponent to a negative percentage for a match.

NM State’s hitting percentage was aided by three players hitting above .500 for the match. Senior Shelbi Goode, who has played her best volleyball in the last few weeks, hit at a career-high .583 percentage and had seven kills. Freshman Jordan Abalos also had a career-high hitting percentage, .538, while also notching a team-high eight kills. Junior Nathalie Castellanos, meanwhile, finished with six kills and a .545 hitting percentage.

Junior setter Taylor Livoti finished with a match-high 18 assists while freshman Ashlyn Brown added 13 assists. Freshman Ariadnne Sierra, who started at the libero position for injured starter Hannah Walker, had a match-high 10 digs.

The big matchup on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo., will have a noon (MT) start. The match can be heard live on KGRT AM 570 with Adam Young on the call. The battle of the top two teams in the WAC will also be streamed live over the Internet for free on the WAC Digital Network. Click HERE for access. Live stats will also be available on www.nmstatesports.com and up-to-the-minute updates will be posted on NM State’s athletic Twitter account, @nmstateaggies.