PHOENIX, Ariz. – The No. 1-seeded New Mexico State volleyball team claimed a 3-2 win (27-29, 26-24, 26-28, 25-12, 15-12) over No. 4 seed Idaho on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the Grand Canyon University Arena. The Aggies advance to the championship match on Wednesday evening.
“We were a little slow out of the gate,” head coach Mike Jordan said, “but we got it together. We just needed to wake up a little bit after those first couple of sets.”
The Aggies saw four earn double-doubles on the night with Taylor Livoti earning 28 assists and 10 digs. Bradley Nash had 10 kills and 23 digs, Stephanie Ziegler earned a career-high 18 kills and 23 digs and Ciara Brown had 31 assists and 11 digs. Four double-doubles is the most for the Aggies this season.
The team finished with a .216 team-hitting percentage and a total of 70 kills. Idaho had 14 service errors and hit just .179.
The Aggies let Idaho take the lead in set one 15-12 at the first timeout, but NM State tied the match eight different times until a service ace by Livoti gave the team a 20-19 edge. The Aggies outscored the Vandals 8-5 until the other side of a timeout when Idaho scored back-to-back points to regain the lead.
Preslie Alexander got the Aggies to set point with a kill, but the Vandals tied it up and gave the Aggies set point once more with a service error. Trading service errors, the Vandals managed to take the set, 29-27, off an attacking error by the Aggies. NM State had 14 kills to Idaho’s 13 and the Aggies managed just a .091 team-hitting percentage. Desiree Scott led with four kills in the set, while Livoti has seven assists.
NM State took set two 26-24 after the teams traded points early on. NM State battled early on, but a block by Idaho gave them a 20-18 lead over the Aggies until a big side-out point by first team All-WAC member Gwen Murphy brought the Aggies within one. NM State tied the set at 23 all, but Idaho tested the waters with the next two points. A net violation by the Vandals called the set point back, giving Scott and Murphy the chance to block the next attempt for a 25-24 lead.
Set two saw the Aggies finish with a .186 hitting percentage and Livoti with a team-high 15 assists. Scott managed eight kills and the team had 10 blocks.
The Aggies kept the momentum from set two and went up 6-4 in the third set, the team’s largest lead of the match thus far. NM State kept the lead halfway through the match, but a four-point rally by the Vandals tied things up at 15 apiece. The Aggies were first to 20 for a two-point lead until Idaho scored four in a row to take a 23-22 lead. The lead did not last long as NM State took the next two points. The Vandals came back to take the set from NM State 28-26.
Set four went to the Aggies 25-12 to tie up the match 2-2 and force a fifth set. The Aggies took a big 11-4 lead and continued to outscore Idaho 9-3 until the Vandals got their first point with the Aggies still leading 20-8. NM State blew past the Vandals to a 25-12 set win to force set five.
“I think Taylor really turned it on in the fourth set and I don’t think we would have won had she not turned it on for us,” Jordan said.
NM State and the Vandals battled in set five until the Aggies notched a 15-12 win to come out on top of the match, 3-2. NM State took the lead quickly and went up 9-7 and continued to dominate the set with two more points until Idaho ended the six-point run with its eighth point of the game. NM State did not let that stop them and went up 13-8 and took the match 15-12.
The Aggies meet No. 2 Bakersfield on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 5 p.m. (MT) in the championship match of the WAC Tournament.