NMSU Volleyball Survives Five Set Road Test At UTRGV

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

EDINBURGH, TX - Behind a career-high 28 kills, sophomore Tatyana Battle lifted the NM State volleyball team past UT Rio Grande Valley 25-23, 24-26, 25-19, 21-25, 15-9 Saturday afternoon as the Aggies made their return to the win column.

With the win, NM State (21-6, 11-1 WAC) clinched at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title and could win it outright for the second-consecutive year should CSU Bakersfield fall this afternoon (2 p.m. first serve).

How It Happened:
Like the entire match, each set was tightly contested all the way to the end – especially the first two sets. After an early 2-1 lead on a Sasha-Lee Thomas kill, the Aggies played behind UTRGV (17-12, 6-6 WAC) until four-straight points gave NM State the 18-17 lead in the first set. The lead bounced back-and-forth between the two teams until the first set was tied 23-23. From there, Jordan Abalos came through for the Aggies with a kill and service ace to clinch the set.

Much like the first set, neither team was able find their rhythm with the scored tied 11 different times with four lead changes in the second set. Despite holding a 24-22 lead, NM State saw four-straight kills from the Vaqueros knot things up at 1-1.

NM State came out much better in the third set, tallying 17 kills to UTRGV’s 10. The Aggies took their largest lead of the day, 18-12, on a pass from Ariadnne Sierra that Battle crushed down the line. UTRGV chipped away at the lead near the end, but it wasn’t enough as Abalos closed out the third set for NM State, 25-19.

However, the home team did not back down as it rallied in the next set and never gave up its lead the entire fourth frame to force a fifth and final set.

After giving up the first point of the fifth set, NM State went on a 4-1 run to force a UTRGV timeout. The Aggies scored six-straight points before the Vaqueros were able to get just its second point on the board. UTRGV brought it within 9-7 of NM State later in the fifth set, but it wasn’t enough as back-to-back kills from Abalos and Battle gave the Aggies the 3-2 victory.

By the Numbers:
Battle finished with a career-high 28 kills and 18 digs while tallying her seventh double-double of the year. Abalos extended her team-lead in the double-doubles category with 19 kills and 15 digs on the year with Brianna Ainsworth picked up her seventh double-double this season behind 38 assists and 10 digs. Freshman Alexsa “Crash” Parker tallied a new season-high in assists with 30. As a team, the 78 kills, 75 assists and 90 digs was a new season-high for the Aggies. The last time NM State lost a true road match was Aug. 27 when it fell to UNLV 3-0 in the UNLV Tournament.

NM State will close out its regular-season next week when it travels to Chicago State (Nov. 10) and UMKC (Nov. 12) before hosting the WAC Tournament (Nov. 17-20).