BERKELEY, Calif. – Senior Lauren Loerch posted a career-high .476 hitting percentage as the New Mexico State volleyball team dominated Nevada, pulling off a season-opening sweep in the Haas Pavilion, Friday, Aug. 30. The Aggies won 25-21, 25-18, 25-12 to start off 1-0 while Nevada starts its season 0-1.
NM State out-hit the Wolf Pack .257-.080 with Loerch pacing the Aggies posting a match-high 11 kills on 21 attacks with just one error. Red shirt sophomore Bradley Nash tallied nine kills on a .318 hitting percentage and freshman outside hitter Aleisha Coates showed her potential marking seven kills in her first career match in an Aggie uniform.
“We were physical at times and played pretty good defense,” head coach Mike Jordan said. “We miscommunicated at times and we definitely need to make adjustments, but we will get better. Loerch was fantastic and she gives us a back row attack element that we didn’t have last year. Coates did a nice job, especially because freshmen are usually the ones you worry about early on. She took some good swings.”
The Aggies ran a 6-2 offense, using two setters with senior Ciara Brown posting a match-high 19 assists, while freshman Taylor Livoti tallied 13 assists. On the defensive side of the net, senior Stephanie Ziegler led all players with 10 digs with Loerch digging up eight balls. Sophomore Gwen Murphy played aggressive as she was in on four blocks and worked hard to pick up three kills.
Set one started a little sluggish but the Aggies held Nevada to a .000 hitting percentage to win 25-21. NM State fell behind 4-1 to start the set be put together a nice scoring rally to tie it up at 7-7. The Aggies took their first lead of the year at 10-9 and extended their lead to 13-10 on a nice block by Murphy. A kill by Coates got the Aggies to match-point at 24-21 before winning the set on a Nevada error.
The second set began with the Aggies taking an early 7-3 lead and took an 18-12 lead with a kill by Loech and ended the match with a kill from Nash.
The Aggies to a 4-0 lead in set three without even serving the ball after Nevada came out late from intermission. According to NCAA rules, a team is given a warning 30 seconds prior to the start of set three and penalized a point if not on the court by the time the clock reaches 0:00. After that, the team that is delaying the match is penalized a point for every 30 seconds it is late.
NM State committed only two errors in set three and handled the Wolf Pack in dominant fashion to win 25-12. The Aggies are now 4-1 over the past five years in season-opening matches. NM State lost to No. 11 Oregon in 2008 and No. 5 Nebraska in 2011 and reached the WAC Tournament title match each of those years.
The Aggies return to action with two matches on Saturday, Aug. 31 in Berkeley, Calif. First up will be a match against host team California at 1:00 p.m. (MT) before facing UC-Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m. (MT) in the Haas Pavilion. Both matches are scheduled to air on the radio on KSNM AM 570 while score updates will be available on Twitter @NMStateAggies.