NMSU Volleyball Survives Five Set Match At Chicago State, Clinches WAC Regular Season Title

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

CHICAGO, IL - It was a roller coaster ride Thursday night at the Dickens Center, but the NM State volleyball team pulled out a 25-18, 21-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-9 victory over Chicago State to win its second-straight Western Athletic Conference title and third in four years. The win also secured the No. 1 seed for NM State at the upcoming WAC Tournament (Nov. 17-19), which will be held in the friendly confines of the Pan American Center where the Aggies have won 41 matches the last four seasons.

"We didn't play well until partway through the fourth set," head coach Mike Jordan said. "We struggle being function for too long, but when we play well we're fun to watch. Megan Hart stepped up and made some big plays for us."

How It Happened:
The first set had a lot of back-and-forth scoring between both teams, but a 5-0 run by NM State (22-6, 12-1 WAC) made it 16-13 in favor of the Aggies and helped them pull away. NM State really kept the attack on their side of the floor during the first frame with 44 total attacks to Chicago States' (3-25, 1-12 WAC) 29. However, the 11 attacking errors by NM State kept things close.

NM State led 6-5 early in the second set, but the Cougars roared back with a 10-2 run to take the 15-8 lead and never looked back as they knotted things up at one set apiece with the 25-21 win.

With momentum on their side, Chicago State jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the third set before kills from Tatyana Battle and Megan Hart cut it to 3-2. Another four-straight points from the Cougars saw them take a 9-4 lead before a kill by Kassandra Tohm, who racked up a career-high 17 kills on Thursday, brought the Aggies within 14-10 of CSU. The Cougars extended their lead to 20-12 before the Aggies surged back to trail 24-23, but a service error from Battle gave the Cougars a 2-1 lead heading into the break.

Set No. 4 started out sluggish for the Aggies as Chicago State opened up with a 7-2 run. NM State took its first lead of the match since the second set, 11-10, thanks to a Jordan Abalos kill. After the Cougars knotted things up at 11 all, a 12-5 run from the Aggies had them on top 23-16 before tying the match up with a 25-17 victory to force a fifth set.

Chicago State, again, jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but the resilient young Aggie team fought back to take the 5-4 lead and forced a Cougar timeout. From that point on, New Mexico State never relinquished its lead and escaped with a 15-9 victory in the fifth set. NM State had a .300 hitting clip in the fifth set compared to a morbid .000 hitting clip from the Cougars.

By The Numbers:
Abalos finished with 16 kills and 11 digs for her 15th double-double of the season while Battle notched her eight double-double of the season with 19 kills and 13 digs. Sasha-Lee Thomas (15) and Tohm (17) rounded out the double-digit kills scorers for NM State. Brianna Ainsworth tallied 32 assists on the night while Parker added 28. Ariadnne Sierra finished with a game-high 22 digs.

WAC Tournament
The WAC Volleyball Tournament will be played in the Pan American Center next week, Nov. 17-19, as NM State looks to defend its title on its floor.

All-Session Passes are $25 for adults, $10 for youth (ages 3-12) and free for children (2 and under) and students from participating WAC schools with valid ID. Single-Session Passes are $12 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-12). Tickets can be purchased by calling the Pan American Center box office by calling 575-646-1420.

Up Next
NM State now travels to Kansas City for a noon match-up against UMKC on Saturday, Nov. 12, on the WAC Digital Network.