This week: The New Mexico State volleyball team heads back out on the road playing in the 2012 Rams Classic, Sept. 7-9 in Fort Collins, Colo. The Aggies take on Florida International, Friday, Sept. 7 at 4:30 p.m. (MT) in Moby Arena. NM State then takes on No. 12 ranked Pepperdine, Saturday, Sept. 8 at 11:00 a.m. (MT) before wrapping up the tournament against Colorado State, Sunday, Sept. 9 at 12:00 p.m. (MT).
Radio Coverage: The Aggie Sports Network is producing 15 matches on KSNM AM 570 this season, along with any matches in the post season. Although, there are not any matches scheduled to air on the radio this weekend.
The matches airing over the radio waves produced by the Aggie Sports Network on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces can also be heard from anywhere around the world on the Internet by logging onto www.NMStateSports.com. Just click on the live events link to access the coverage for a fee.
Television Coverage: The NM State volleyball team will have six matches on TV this year. The AggieVision Production team has the following matches scheduled to air on TV: Louisiana Tech - Sept. 20; UTSA - Oct. 11; Texas State - Oct. 13; San Jose State - Nov. 1; Utah State - Nov. 3.
Matches produced by AggieVision will also air on ESPN3.com (free of charge) and fans should check local listings for airtimes in their area. Fans can also go to www.AggieVision.tv for channel listings.
Live Stats on the Web: Live stats will be available for fans at www.NMStateSports.com at no cost all season long. Fans can click on the Live Events link at the top of the NMStateSports.com home page to access the live stats.
Twitter/Facebook: Get all the updates of Aggie Athletics on Twitter and Facebook. Get in-game statistics and in-game updates on Twitter @NMStateAggies. Find out about all Aggie Athletics promotions and events on Facebook @NMSU Athletics.
About the Aggies: After finishing last year with a 23-10 record, the Aggies were picked to win the WAC in the league preseason coaches' poll. The Aggies return starting outside hitters Meredith Hays and Stephanie Ziegler, while losing three-time honorable mention All-American setter Jennah DeVries and three-time All-WAC selection middle hitter Kelsey Brennan. NM State also lost libero Kelsi Phillips, who is in the top 10 in Aggie record books for digs per set in a season.
Head coach Mike Jordan, who is in his 15th season with NM State, is anxious to see what redshirt freshman outsider hitter Bradley Nash can bring to the court after she went down with a season-ending injury in the first match of the 2011 season (vs. Nebraska).
NM State continues the 2012 season with a 5-1 record after the NM State Tournament. The Aggies posted a .241 hitting percentage last weekend and held their opponents to a .182. NM State is averaging 13.46 kills per set and 12.4 assists per set to date. In the last three games, NM State dropped from 2.83 blocks per set to 2.56 blocks per set and had 13.08 blocks per set which is down one from the first three games.
Good Start: The Aggies started their season 5-1 for the first time since 2010. That year NM State finished with an 18-13 record and made it to the WAC tournament only to lose a close game against Utah State in the first round. NM State also started 5-1 in 2007 and finished the year with a 26-6 record, while reaching the NCAA Tournament and falling to LSU in the first round.
An Ace for Hays: Sophomore Meredith Hays, who leads the Aggies in kills with 4.67 per set, tallied a new career-high in aces, Aug. 31 against Cincinnati. She marked five aces against the Bearcats with all five coming in set No. 4. With the Aggies leading 13-6 in the fourth set, Hays went to the line serving up four aces out of five points scored. She served 12 consecutive times before during the set as the Aggies won 25-7.
Hays was named to the La Quinta Invitational All-Tournament team after she posted 4.08 kills per set and eight service aces. She also tallied 19 digs and six total blocks while finishing the 12 sets played with 61 points.
Scott on All-Tournament Team: Junior middle hitter Desiree Scott was named to the La Quinta Invitational Tournament after she marked 21 kills (1.75/set), a .389 hitting percentage and 13 total blocks. Six of those blocks were solo.
Scott had a great offensive showing against Cincinnati, Aug. 31 as she tallied eight kills on nine swings without an error for a .889 hitting percentage. In the very next match, against Drake, Scott did work on the defensive side of the net tallying seven total blocks, five of them solo. She also added eight kills to lead the Aggies to their fifth consecutive win of the year.
Addition of Alexander Great for NM State: Junior Preslie Alexander, who transfer in from Blinn Junior College, is second on the team in kills averaging 2.54 per set. She marked new career-highs for kills and attempts in a 3-1 loss to Northwestern. Alexander finished the evening putting up 14 kills on 40 attempts while also adding an assist, two digs and a block assist. She has played in all 24 sets for NM State this year and has a total of 61 kills.
Younger Crowd Pitching In: The Aggies have seven freshmen on the roster this season, including setter Taylor Livoti and right-side hitter Nathalie Castellanos. Livoti is one of three setters NM State has used this season and has played in all 24 sets heading into the weekend. She is second on the team posting 4.33 assists per set and also has eight kills.
Castellanos continues to see more playing time as the season goes on and has played in nine sets so far. She has seven kills on the year to go along with two assists, three digs and four total blocks. Castellanos grew up just ten miles south of Las Cruces in Vado, N.M. and is the cousin of former Aggie great, Alice Borden.
Back at Full Strength: Red shirt freshman Bradley Nash and Gwen Murphy are back on the court after sitting out the majority of last season with an injury. Nash has played in 22 sets this season averaging 1.32 kills per set and has tallied two aces and 15 total blocks. Murphy has seen time in 21 sets this season and has marked 15 kills on a .237 hitting percentage. She has also posted 15 total blocks this year. Murphy tied a career-high five kills against Northwestern, Sept. 1 and also marked a new career-high for hitting percentage as she went 5-of-9 for a .444 hitting percentage.
Aggies in the WAC: The Aggies start this week with one of the best records yet at 5-1 in WAC play. They are NO.1 in hitting percentage (.241) and serving aces (1.50/set). NM State still remains second in assists (12.38/set) and blocks (2.56/set).
Sophomore Meredith Hays leads the WAC in points (5.42/set) and serving aces (0.46/set). She also comes in second in kills (4.75/set). Junior Desiree Scott stands at NO. 8 in blocks (1.21/set) and NO. 7 in hitting percentage (.333). Junior Ciara Brown is ranked NO. 10 in assists, averaging 6.36 per set.
Aggies vs. Pepperdine: The Aggies are 1-1 against Pepperdine all-time. The Aggies defeated the Waves 3-0, Sept. 23, 1983. Twenty-seven years later the Waves came back and defeated the Aggies 3-1, Sept. 17, 2010.
Jazmine Orozco currently leads the Waves with 3.39 kills per set and 2.67 digs per set. Michaela Christiansen leads the way on the defensive side of the court with 3.89 digs per set.
Aggies vs. Colorado: NM State is 12-18 all-time against the Colorado State Rams. The Aggies most recent victory over CSU came, Nov.28, 2009, as NM State won 3-1. The Aggies last home game against the Rams was, Nov. 26, 2011, with the Aggies falling in that match, 3-1.
Dana Cranston leads the Rams with 3.46 kills per set and 1.77 digs per set. On the defensive side Izzy Gaulia leads with 4.08 digs per set.
Aggies vs. Florida International: The Aggies are 8-1 against Florida International. The Aggies only loss to the Panthers came on Nov. 16m 2001, as the Aggies fell 3-1 in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
NM State has since won eight straight against FIU with its last win coming, Aug. 27, 2010 with the Aggies winning 3-1.
Marija Prsa leads the Panthers with 3.57 kills per set and 2.86 digs per set. Defending the court along side Prsa is Ryanne Milligan with 2.43 digs per set.
Aggies vs. Ranked Teams: NM State played four matches against schools ranked in the top 25 last year and is now 10-139 all-time against nationally ranked teams. The Aggies came close to defeating Nebraska, although the lost 3-2 on Aug. 26, 2011 in Albuquerque. NM State also played Hawaii three times last year, who was ranked in the top 10 all season.
NIU All-Tournament: Sophomore Meredith Hays was named the NIU Tournament MVP, while juniors Desiree Scott and Preslie Alexander joined her on the all-tournament team. Scott finished the tournament with 18 kills and 16 total blocks while Alexander averaged 2.42 kills per set in 12 sets played. This is Scott's third year with the Aggies, while Alexander is a transfer from Blinn Junior College.
WAC Preseason Poll: The WAC volleyball coaches selected NM State to win the WAC regular season title in 2012. The Aggies received eight of the 10 first-place votes with Idaho earning the other two. The Aggies earned 79 total points, followed by Idaho with 67. UTSA was picked to finish third with 58 points, followed closely by Utah State in fourth with 57 points and Texas State in fifth with 52. Denver was picked sixth with 43 points, while San Jose State was selected seventh with 34 points. UT Arlington, Seattle U and Louisiana Tech rounded out the poll with 27, 18 and 15 points, respectively.
Preseason All-WAC: NM State placed the most players on the preseason All-WAC team with three, including sophomore Meredith Hays as Preseason Player of the Year, while Idaho, UTSA and Utah State had two apiece.
Joining Hays on the preseason team are teammates Lauren Loerch and Desiree Scott, Idaho's Alex Sele and Allison Walker, UTSA's McKenzie Adams and Whitney Walls, Utah State's Shay Sorensen and Joselyn White, Denver's Faimie Kingsley, San Jose State's Alex Akana and Texas State's Amari Deardorff.
Hays, was a 2011 first team All-WAC member as a freshman and was also the 2011 Freshman of the Year. She was only the second Aggie ever to earn that honor. She led the WAC and ranked 18th in the nation in both kills per set (4.42) and points per set (4.94). Hays also led the WAC with 500 kills on the season. Scott played in 98 sets as a sophomore last season, ranking second on the team in blocks per set (0.78) and third in total blocks (76). She was a perfect six kills on six attempts during a sweep of Utah State on Oct. 1, 2011. Loerch, a cousin of former Aggie great Stevi (Adams) Maytubby, comes to NM State as a transfer from California. She was a part of the 2010 Bear team that reached the NCAA National Championship match against Penn State.
Returning Top Stats Leaders: The Aggies welcome back outside hitter Meredith Hays, who not only led her team but led the WAC with 4.42 kills per set. Redshirt junior Stephanie Ziegler was third on the team in 2011 with 2.17 kills per set. Unfortunately, NM State lost Kelsi Phillips who led the team in service aces (35) and digs (4.13/set) and will look to some newcomers to replace her. Hays was third on the team last year in digs (2.53/set), while junior Desiree Scott was third in total blocks (76).
Jordan Back for 15th Season: Head coach Mike Jordan enters his 15 year with NM State and heads into the weekend with a 313-139 overall record, and 89-21 in WAC play. He earned WAC Coach of the Year honors in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and also earned Coach of the Year honors twice in the Sun Belt Conference (2003 and 2004).
Jordan is the only NM State volleyball head coach to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament, which he has done five times (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008). He is also the only Aggie head coach to ever lead his team to a conference title as he led his team to titles in both the Sun Belt Conference and the WAC. NM State is the first team to either share or hold the WAC regular-season title since BYU and Hawai'i shared the Pacific Division title in 1998.