NMSU Volleyball Rallies For Five Set Win Over UMKC

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - After being down 2-0, New Mexico State (16-4, 6-0 WAC) rallied all the way back to take the last three sets from UMKC (10-9, 3-3 WAC) and steal the 23-25, 24-26, 25-17, 27-25, 15-12 victory. With the win, the Aggies extend their regular season Western Athletic Conference win streak to an impressive 20 straight.

“That was a gutsy win,” said head coach Mike Jordan. “We were getting what we wanted a lot of rotations in those early sets. We were three-passing well enough, but our setting and attacking choice have to improve. We did a lot better in the later sets, we got them in some bad rotations and managed get some points in bunches. We were down 5-1 in the fifth and we went on a big point run. Defensively, we worked a little bit harder and got a little smarter in our attack selection. When we are running on all cylinders, we are tough to beat. However, when you look at the numbers, we had 18 more kills, but had 10 more attack errors. When you give back those points on the unforced error, it can kill you. We have to stop doing that, it is really hurting us.”

Three Aggies put up double-doubles on the night. Junior Jordan Abalos paced the squad with 21 kills and 15 digs, while sophomore Tatyana Battle set a new career-high with 19 kills and 16 digs and sophomore Brianna Ainsworth put up a career-high 57 assists and 16 digs. Kassandra Tohm contributed 11 kills and two blocks to the team effort. Junior Sasha-Lee Thomas gathered 10 kills and reached the 300 career blocks milestone with six in the match.

NM State looked a little out of sorts to start the match, as they fell behind early to UMKC. They held a 3-1 lead at the outset of the frame, but that would be the last time they would lead in the set. The ‘Roos took over at 4-3 and never looked back. At the height of their lead, UMKC held a five-point advantage at 22-17. The Aggies tried to rally late in the frame, forcing four set points and pulling within one at 24-23. Unfortunately, the comeback would come up short as the ‘Roos took the first set 25-23.

The Aggies looked to have solved their problems in the second set as they opened on a 4-2 lead. They would eventually go on a run and force the lead to 9-5. UMKC rallied back to tie the match at 16-16, but NM State would pull away again at 20-17. Down 23-21, the ‘Roos fought back with a 5-1 point run out of a timeout to claim the second set 26-24.

Looking to stave off a sweep, the Aggies came out of the break roaring as they took a 6-4 lead early in the third set. From there, NM State would run the lead out to 13-9. UMKC battled back to tie it at 13-13, but the Aggies broke away again and ran the lead out to 20-16. NM State eventually took their first set of the match 25-17.

Although momentum was on their side, NM State seemed lifeless as they went down 7-3 to the ‘Roos early in the fourth set. UMKC pushed their lead out to 12-7, but the Aggies came to life and began to slowly chip away at the deficit. NM State kept battling and eventually tied the set at 21-21. The Aggies reached set point at 24-22, but the ‘Roos would not go way and tied it at 24-24 and 25-25. NM State would come out on top and forced a deciding fifth set with a 27-25 decision.

Another slow start in the fifth set looked to doom the Aggies again as they went down 5-0 to start the frame. NM State clawed their way back yet again and tied it at 7-7 as part of a 5-1 run. From there, the Aggies extended the run to 11-1 and forced match point at 14-7. However, as had been the case all match, the ‘Roos showed their resiliency and went on another 5-0 run to set the score at 14-12. The Aggies completed the comeback and kept their now 11-straight overall win streak alive with a 15-12 decision.

So far this season, NM State is 4-1 in five set matches. Their only loss in five sets came against UC Santa Barbara at the UNLV Invitational in the first week of the season.

The Aggies will close out the four-match homestand and the first half of the WAC schedule on Saturday as Chicago State comes to the Pan American Center for a 1 p.m. tilt.