SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The New Mexico State volleyball team (20-10) swept the Denver Pioneers (17-13), 25-15, 25-17, 26-24 in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Monday, Nov. 19 in San Antonio, Texas.
The Aggies hit .389 as a team with only 10 attack errors to handle Denver and head into the semifinals of the tournament. Junior middle hitter Desiree Scott led the way with a .625 hitting percentage posting 10 kills on 16 swings without a single error. Junior outside hitter Lauren Loerch added a match-high 11 kills while hitting .474, which is a season-high for her.
Sophomore Meredith Hays added nine kills and a match-high 13 digs, while junior Ciara Brown and freshman Taylor Livoti split the setting duties as they marked 22 and 21 assists respectively.
"We ball handled very well today and our defensive effort was pretty good today," head coach Mike Jordan said. "We took a lot of good swings and we were low error. It was a good match all-around."
The Aggies started the match hitting .462 in set one with 19 kills on 39 swings with only one attack error. NM State hit .462 while holding the Pioneers to only eight kills and a .121 hitting percentage. The Aggies took a 5-4 lead on a Preslie Alexander kills and never lost the lead after that. NM State went up by 10 at 19-9 when Hays hammered a kill down before eventually winning the set by 10 at 25-15 with freshman Nathalie Castellanos wrapping it up with her fourth kill of the evening.
NM State fell behind 6-2 in set two but fought back scoring seven straight points to take a 9-6 lead. The Aggies would not relinquish that lead and went up by as many as six at 21-15 after two consecutive attack errors by Denver. The Aggies concluded the set with three straight kills (one by Scott, two by Hays) to win 25-17. There were four Aggies with two kills apiece as Loerch led the way posting four kills on four attempts.
Set three was much different as Denver picked up some momentum and kept it close until the Aggies won 26-24. There were five ties and two lead changes in a set that saw red shirt freshman mark five kills on seven swings. NM State struggled midway thru the set falling behind 18-11. NM State wouldn't give up and pulled to within one at 22-21 on a Denver attack error. A kill by Nash tied it up at 24-all and then the Pioneers buckled posting two attack errors to give NM State a 26-24 win.
The Aggies head to the semifinals versus the winners of the Utah State/UT-Arlington match, Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 5:30 p.m. (MT) in San Antonio. The match is scheduled to air live on the radio in Las Cruces on KSNM AM 570 with Jay Sanderson giving the play-by-play action. Live stats will be available online at www.NMStateSports.com.