LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State volleyball team fought through a four-set match in the Pan American Center against Arkansas-Little Rock, Friday evening but lost 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 21-25, 27-29) to fall to 1-1 on the first day of the NM State Volleyball Tournament. The Aggies move to 2-6 on the year, while UALR improves to 4-4 overall.
The Aggies competed in all four sets but UALR tallied more kills (64-61), more blocks (10-8), more digs (65-56) and a higher hitting percentage (.252-198) to defeat NM State in front of its home crowd. Senior outside hitter Lauren Loerch marked a team-high 18 kills and senior middle hitter Desiree Scott added 11 kills to give their team the opportunity to stay in the match.
Senior middle Preslie Alexander added nine kills and a .400 hitting percentage, while senior Ciara Brown, who posted 30 assists, split the setting duties with sophomore Taylor Livoti, who posted 22 assists. Senior libero Stephanie Ziegler tallied 18 digs on the night, as Loerch was just one dig away from a double-double.
NM State took a comfortable 5-1 lead in set one and held a four-point lead at 15-11 when sophomore Nathalie Castellanos put down one of here three kills. UALR used a 5-0 run to take a 16-15 lead but the Aggies scored four straight points of their own to go up 19-16. The Trojans got to within one at 19-18 but NM State won the set 25-22, when Scott slammed a kill down the middle to end the set.
Set two was tied eight times and the lead changed sides five times, as both teams had 17 kills and two blocks, but the ball just didn’t bounce the Aggies’ way as they lost 25-23. NM State fell behind by three at 11-8 but came back on a 4-1 run to tie it at 12-12 on a Loerch kill. The set was close from that point on with the Aggies having the lead late in the set at 22-21, when Scott marked another kill. Scott later posted her seventh kill of the evening to bring her team to within one at 24-23 but the Aggies could not contain a Trojan attack and lost 25-23.
The Aggies once again started with a lead in set three and extended that lead to six at 8-2 but seemed to let up, allowing UALR to tie the set late at 19-19. Nine attack errors by the Aggies and three blocks by the Trojans may have been the difference in the set, although UALR used three straight kills to take a 24-20 lead before winning 25-21.
Set four was a heart-breaker for the players, the coaches and the fans as the Aggies fought back from a six-point deficit at 14-8 and eventually tied it at 18-18, taking advantage of a 10-4 run. The set was tied at 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26 and 27 but UALR marked two kills to end the set and match with a 29-27 win in the fourth set. The Aggies had three blocks but UALR marked four, as NM State was out hit .308 to .231 in the set.
The Aggies play Northern Illinois, Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. (MT) in the Pan American Center. The match can be heard on the radio in Las Cruces on KRGT 103.9 FM. Score updates are also available on Twitter @NMStateAggies.