NMSU Volleyball Drops WAC Opener At Cal Baptist

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

RIVERSIDE, CA - The New Mexico State volleyball team opened Western Athletic Conference play with a five-set thriller against California Baptist at the Van Dyne Gym on Thursday night. The Aggies fell to the Lancers 23-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 11-15 in their first league contest.

How it Happened

NM State (10-4) got off to a slow start, trailing CBU (10-3) by five early in the opening set. The Aggies clawed their way back to come within a pair down the stretch but quickly fell behind 17-13. With Halle Razo serving, New Mexico State rallied, coming within a point of the Lancers before California Baptist called a timeout to stop NM State's momentum. Despite tying the set at 23-23, the Aggies couldn't find their rhythm and fell 25-23 in the first set.

New Mexico State jumped out to hold the 6-2 advantage early in the second set but a California Baptist rally quickly caught up to the Crimson and White. New Mexico State trailed 15-13 at the media timeout but the Aggies tied the match 18-18 following an attack error by the opposition. The errors soon plagued New Mexico State and an ace by CBU put the team behind 22-19 late in the set. The Aggies came within a score while the Lancers held set point but NM State was unable to complete the comeback it needed and dropped the second set 25-23.

Needing to find their momentum, the Aggies jumped out to a four-point lead early in the set. Despite the Lancers coming within a pair of New Mexico State down the stretch, the Aggies did not falter and kept their composure, building back their lead over time. A kill by Savannah Davison put New Mexico State at set point and Ashley Anselmo gave the Aggies the 25-19 victory in the third with a kill off an assist from Natalie Mikels.

NM State and CBU went back-and-forth to start the fourth set but a six-point run with Briana Ainsworth serving gave the Aggies the 15-9 advantage. The Lancers surged back, coming within a pair to force New Mexico State to take a timeout. Following the break, the teams continued to go point-for-point but NM State was able to go in front by four. The Aggies kept control late and after a block by Tatyana Battle and Lia Mosher allowed the Crimson and White to get to set point, a kill from Ainsworth to Battle put away the 25-20 victory.

In the final set, the Aggies took an early 4-3 lead after Mikels served an ace but after falling behind 6-5, a kill from Anselmo tied the set. After switching sides while holding the one-point advantage, the NM State faced an obstacle with the Lancers posting a two-point rally that tied the set 10-10. The momentum favored California Baptist and the Aggies were outscored 5-1 during the final moments of the set, falling 15-11 in the team's first match of conference play.

By the Numbers

NM State recorded 67 kills on hitting .235 in the loss. New Mexico State also posted 73 digs, 63 assists and nine blocks for the match. Battle and Ainsworth posted a double-double in the opening conference contest of their senior careers. Battle tallied a team-best 17 kills and 12 digs while Ainsworth led the squad in both assists (31) and digs (16).

The Aggies head to CSU Bakersfield for their next conference match. NM State faces off against the 2017 WAC tournament champions on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 1 p.m. MT.