NMSU Volleyball To Bakersfield Falls In WAC Tournament Semifinals

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

EDINBURG, TX - The top-seeded New Mexico State volleyball team was defeated by No.4 seeded CSU Bakersfield in the Western Athletic Conference semifinals at the UTRGV Fieldhouse on Friday. The Aggies fell to the Roadrunners 22-25, 20-25, 25-20, 17-25 ending their run in the WAC Tournament.

“First off, I have to give credit to CSU Bakersfield. They served the ball exceptionally well. We did a terrible job at serving and passing the ball in stretches and it really cost us. Our blocking was very poor as well,” head coach Michael Jordan said. “We hit for a decent percentage but our opponents hit way too high of a percentage. We just couldn’t overcome our mistakes.”

How It Happened

NM State (21-8) came out flat in the first set, falling behind 4-1 early to CSUB (18-13). The Aggies tied the match 5-5 and went back-and-forth with their opponents until a five-point run by CSU Bakersfield put the Aggies behind. A rally with Megan Hart behind the service line brought New Mexico State within a pair of points but CSUB quickly regained a five-point advantage. The Aggies made a late comeback, bringing the deficit to two, but NM State was unable to gain the lead and as a result, fell in the opening set 25-22.

In the second set, the Aggies fell behind 9-4 early. New Mexico State continued to fall behind with CSUB gaining a nine-point advantage. The Aggies cut the deficit to four late in the set but, once again, the ‘Runners overpowered the NM State and the team fell 25-20.

New Mexico State went point-for-point with CSU Bakersfield to start the third set but the Aggies fell behind 12-9 early. After trailing by a single score at the media timeout, NM State gained momentum and pulled ahead by three with Kaylee Neal serving. The Aggies built on their advantage late in the set an attack error by CSUB closed out NM State’s 25-20 victory.

After falling behind by four early in the fourth set, the Aggies clawed their way back to trail by a single point. The NM State squad continued to battle, but the struggles continued for New Mexico State as they fell behind 18-14 late in the set. The Aggies could not contain the ‘Runners’ momentum and New Mexico State fell in the final set 25-17.

“I feel badly for our team. We were the best team in the conference all year and unfortunately we came here and put ourselves at risk in the conference tournament. The bye didn’t do us any favors because you start nervous and you play poorly, which is tough to overcome and that I feel like that played a part in our loss today,” Jordan said. “This is the fourth time in six years that the league's regular season champion has not made it to the NCAA tournament.”

By the Numbers

NM State posted 51 kills on hitting .299. The Aggies also recorded 48 assists and 61 digs but gave up 10 service aces to CSU Bakersfield. Kassandra Tohm led New Mexico State with 15 kills while posting a .394 hitting clip. Juniors Tatyana Battle and Briana Ainsworth closed out the season with double-doubles. Battle amassed 13 digs and 13 kills while Ainsworth tallied 19 assists and 11 digs.

The Aggies close out the season with 21-8 overall record and a 12--3 record against conference opponents. The Aggies lose five seniors following the 2017 season including conference Player of the Year Tohm and two-time WAC Libero of the Year Ariadnne Sierra.