Aggie Volleyball Battles No. 2 Texas, Falls In Four Sets

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

TUCSON, AZ - The New Mexico State Aggies gave the second-ranked Texas all it wanted in the final day of the Wildcat Classic, but the Longhorns held on against the scrappy Aggies to win 3-1 at the McKale Center.

NM State (9-5) battled in every set to No. 2 Texas (10-1) before falling 22-25, 27-25, 23-25, 19-25.

"It was a tough one," said NM State Head Coach Mike Jordan. "I was happy with the way we played. We had the chance to go up two sets on the No. 2 team in the country."

"The difference was they're ability to score running the slide."

Senior Gwen Murphy of Elfrida, Ariz./Valley Union had another strong match, leading all hitters with 16 kills and two blocks, while senior Nathalie Castellanos of Vado, N.M./Gadsden added 13 kills with four blocks. Sophomore Jordan Abelos of Safford, Ariz. Chipped in 12 kills as well.

"Gwen is an All-American level player," said Jordan. "She's almost impossible to stop and has really blossomed into an elite player and leader of our team."

The Aggies blocked as well, matching the Longhorns 9.0 team blocks, led by sophomore Sasha-Lee Thomas of Pottsville, Pa., who tallied seven total blocks.

"Sasha turned it up a notch," Jordan added.

Texas outhit NM State .285 to .257, led by Amy Neal who matched Murphy with 16 kills and Chiaka Ogbogu with 15 blocks.

"We played very well," Jordan added. "There's no question we're a Top 25 caliber team."

The Aggies were after the No. 2 team in the nation from the get-go.

The first set saw the lead exchange four times with 13 ties, including 21-all. The Longhorns then rattled off their longest rally of the set with three-straight points and won 25-22.

In the second set, the Aggies fell behind 21-16 before starting a rally and collecting four straight points to pull to 21-20, and pulled even at 22-all.

Got the win in extra play, taking a 26-25 lead on a kill from Castellanos, then the 27-25 win on an ace by Taylor Livoti.

NM State fought back from a six-point deficit in the third set to 23-21, only to have the Horns hold on for the 25-23 win.

The final saw the Aggies get out to a 12-10 lead before the Longhorns rallied with an 8-2 run and never look back for the victory.

"I'm very proud of this team. It's no fluke what's happening. We're playing with the best and we're ready to get some rest and open conference play," Jordan said.

NM State is off until next Saturday when the Aggie open Western Athletic Conference play by hosting the University of Texas of the Rio Grande Valley, the former UT-Pan American. First serve in the Pan American Center is set for 1 p.m.