Aggie Volleyball Sweeps Robert Morris, Brown In Friday Action

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. –The New Mexico State women’s volleyball team was able to put away Robert Morris University in three sets Friday dominating from the start while also rotating in more players.

NM State (6-3) swept 25-16, 25-11 and 25-15 over the Colonials of the Northeast Conference.

Setting the tone for the late morning match, middle blocker Sash-Lee Thomas, a sophomore from Pottsville, Pa., with a series of kills that gave the Aggies a early solid lead that the Colonials (5-3) were never able regain momentum. She would provide a similar charge for the second set, as well.

Coach Mike Jordan said Thomas’ strong start was important to keeping the match energy up after a five-set loss to Oklahoma the night before in the Pan American Center.

“Sasha is our own little energizer bunny,” Jordan said. “And that’s saying something because she just came off ACL surgery and was only recently cleared to play.”

Thomas would finish the match with a total of 8 kills.

But the spotlight was on senior Gwen Murphy of Elfrida, Ariz./Valley Union. She stood out with 14 kills of 15 attempts, racking up an amazing .933 hitting percentage

Freshman Tatyana Battle of Albuquerque, N.M./Cibola continued her strong play with nine kills and a .615 hitting percentage.

Several other players, however, got the opportunity to rack up points with Jordan Abalos of Safford, Ariz./Safford with four kills, Andrea Tauai of New Zealand/Hillsborough and Bryn Popovich of Sierra Vista, Ariz./Buena getting three kills each and Nathali Castellanos of Vado, N.M./Gadsden landing two kills.

Also, the Aggies racked up five serve aces, which they hadn’t been able to make happen than the night before against Oklahoma. The Colonials were on the other side of that equation with only one serve ace, provided by junior Arden Fisher, who also earned seven kills, the most on the team.

In the end, the Colonials were outscored by a nearly 3-1 ratio.

Jordan said the strength of this year’s team is the willingness of the five senior players to share with the younger players made up of freshmen and sophomores. While the match against the Colonials gave more team members time on the court, Jordan said he wasn’t intentionally saving players for the evening match that evening against Brown University, nor Denver the following evening in the Borderland Classic, which has teams playing at both NM State and the UTEP.

“We’re not good enough to disregard anybody,” Jordan said. “Our philosophy is that we give every opponent the same respect.”

Just the same, Jordan said getting the quick three-set win was what he hoped the team would be able to accomplish for “trap game” – a morning match between two evening matches.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. – New Mexico State women’s volleyball team came into the Borderland Classic focused to win, and following a hard-fought five-set loss to Oklahoma the first night, the Aggies came on strong winning two matches Friday, Sept. 11.

The Aggies dominated Brown early for a clean three-win at 25-20, 25-9 and 25-17, much as they had done earlier that morning with Robert Morris.

However the win came at a cost. Just 15 minutes into the first set, senior outside hitter Andrea “Andy” Tauai of Tauranga, New Zealand/Hillsborough suffered an injury to her left pinky finger, that caused her to leave the game.

Coach Mike Jordan said Tauai’s injury is a blow to team because she is a player who brings a variety of skills and abilities.

“Andy getting injured has definitely hurt us,” Jordan said. “She is such a multi-dimensional leader.”

Coupled with freshman setter Brianna Ainsworth also suffering an elbow injury earlier in the day, Jordan said the team lost some of its power.

“Everybody’s got to pick up the slack,” Jordan said. “It has not been a good day in terms of injuries.”

The Aggies forged ahead in the first set with Gwen Murphy of Elfrida, Ariz./Valley Union fueling five of the team’s 11 kills. Murphy also shined in the second set – at one point racking up two quick kills by following a hard slam with delicate tip over the net.

The Aggies came on so strong the second set that at one point they had score 11 straight points before the Bears were finally able to get back the ball.

The third set saw senior Bradley Nash of Kayenta, Ariz./Monument Valley displaying her deft tips to score kills, along with a couple of slams, for a total of eight kills. Freshman Tatyana Battle of Albuquerque, N.M./Cibola continued to impress in all three sets, but especially in the third also with eight kills.

The third set also gave Nathalie Castellanos, a sophomore from Vado, N.M./Gadsden and Sash-Lee Thomas, a sophomore from Pottsville, Pa., with spirited kills before Murphy stepped in to finish the night, totally 10 kills before the sent was over.

The win against Brown puts NM State’s record at 7-3, while setting the Ivy League Browns back to 2-3.

With the last of four matches over three days ending against Denver on Saturday, Jordan admitted the team is a little fatigued, but it’s more of a mental fatigue for the uninjured players because of the intensity of the game they play.

“I like this team a lot,” Jordan said. “They are a real competitive group of players.”

Jordan’s looking for their competitiveness to pull them through their match against Denver at noon Saturday in the Pan American Center. Denver is 7-2, after falling to Oklahoma Friday at the Pan American Center.