LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Sept. 20)-After losing the first set, the New Mexico State volleyball team came back to win the next three and ultimately winning the match against Louisiana Tech in four sets, (23-25, 26-24, 25-12, 25-21) Thursday night inside the Pan American Center. The Aggies improve to 9-3 on the season and 3-0 in Western Athletic Conference play while the Lady Techsters fall to 3-11, 0-2 in the WAC.
The Aggies were led by sophomore outside hitter Meredith Hays who had a team-high 17 kills on the night to go along with 10 digs. The double-double was Hays' team-leading sixth of the year. Junior outside hitter Lauren Loerch and junior middle blocker Preslie Alexander also finished with double-digit kills, Loerch with 11 and Alexander with 10. Junior Hannah Walker led NM State with 12 digs while junior setter Ciara Brown led the team with 26 assists. Junior middle blocker had another productive night, leading the team in hitting percentage (.467) and blocks (5) while barely missing a double-digit kill night with nine.
After losing the first two points of the first set, NM State rallied to take nine of the next 10 points. After a couple of big kills by Hays, the Aggies held a commanding 20-11 lead. The Lady Techsters didn't panic, however, and went on a 10-1 run, including marking seven points in a row to tie the set at 21. After the Aggies took a 1-point lead at 23-22 on a kill by freshman Nathalie Castellanos, Louisiana Tech scored the final three points of the set to take the first set 25-23. NM State finished with a .143 hitting percentage, the Lady Techsters weren't much better at .195. Hays and Loerch each led the Aggies with three kills in the set.
The Aggies once again fell behind early in the second set, losing the first three points. Losing 11-6, NM State got back in the set marking three straight points aided by kills by Castellanos and Loerch closing the gap to 11-9. The set continued to be close reaching a tie at 20. After trailing 24-22 and being one point from losing the first two sets, the Aggies rebounded by scoring the final four points of the set. Scott came up with three of the four final kills in the set for the Aggies. Scott and Castellanos led NM State with four kills each in the set.
Unlike the first two sets, the Aggies took control of the third set early on. After a big kill by Loerch, NM State held a commanding 12-5 lead, but the Lady Techsters once again made a run closing to within three points at 14-11. A couple of kills by Alexander, however, started an 11-1 rally by the Aggies to close out the set.
The fourth and final set was close throughout, reaching a tie at 20 just as in the second set. NM State fell behind 21-20, but that would be the last time they would trail. Three consecutive kills by Hays, Alexander and Scott respectively put the set and match away. Hays once again led the way in the final set with six kills in the set.
NM State now hosts Texas-Arlington Saturday at noon inside the Pan American Center. Livestats will be available at NMStateSports.com.