Aggies Fall In Five Sets To Oklahoma

Written By: NM State athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State Aggies battled back once again on Thursday night and had Oklahoma tied at 14-all in the fifth set before the Sooner spoiled the party by taking the next two points to claim the match 3-2 at the Pan American Center.

NM State (5-3) fell 16-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 14-16 to the Big 12 power Sooners (3-4) to open play in the Borderland Classic.

"I'm disappointed we lost, I knew it would be a close match," said NM State Head Coach Mike Jordan. "In the fifth set we just made a couple of mental mistakes and a couple of missed assignments. We dominated them for two sets, the third and fourth, and you can take a lot away from that. The key is to put it together for three sets, not two. But we will get there."

NM State was paced by the play of senior Gwen Murphy of Elfrida, Ariz./Valley Union, who tallied 15 kills with a .333 hitting percentage. Senior Natalie Castellanos of Vado, N.M./Gadsden posted 13 kills and was tops on the team with a .524 hitting percentage, while freshman Tatyana Battle of Albuquerque, N.M./Cibola chipped in 14 kills.

Oklahoma's Micaela Spann nearly double-doubled to lead the Sooners with 12 kills and nine blocks while hitting .545 for the match. Kimmy Gardiner added 14 kills for OU.

Once again the Aggies dropped the opening two sets, but responded well.

NM State out hit the Sooners in set 3, .484 to .200. In the fourth, the Aggies hit an amazing .500, as the Sooner hit .304.

The fifth set was a roller coaster ride, seeing the Aggies get behind by three only to grab a lead then fall behind again.

Kills by Castellanos and Murphy got the Aggies even at 14-all in the final set.

But a quick kill from Spann made it 15-14, then the Aggies Jordan Abelos hit into a block by the Sooners Spann and Kiera Holst to end the match with the 16-14 set win.

"We got aced on a ball we shouldn't have and missed a couple of defensive assignments that got us down in the fifth," said Jordan. "We just couldn't close it."

The Aggies played before a crowd of 2,206, that helped the Aggies late.

"They were great," said Jordan of the fans. "They got louder and louder and did a great job of being vocal. I hope to see a crowd like that all the time. Aggie Nation's behind the volleyball program and that's a good thing."

The Aggies don't have long to mull over the loss, as they are back on the court Friday morning at 11 a.m. against Robert Morris of the Northeastern Conference. NM State also plays the Ivy League's Brown University at 7 p.m. on Friday. Denver takes on Oklahoma at 4 p.m. on Friday as well.