LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State volleyball team played with intensity in the final match of the NM State Volleyball Tournament and pulled off a 3-1 win over Northern Illinois, Saturday, Sept. 14 in the Pan American Center. The Aggies dropped the first set, 21-25, but came back and won, 25-14, 25-20, and 25-18, to move to 3-6 on the year.
The Aggies got a great defensive performance from redshirt sophomore middle hitter Gwen Murphy, who marked five total blocks (one solo, four assisted), while adding a career-high eight kills on a .353 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Lauren Loerch marked her second double-double of the season posting 10 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Bradley Nash also had a big performance with a double-double that included 11 kills, three service aces and a career-high 17 digs.
“Gwen (Murphy) was huge for us today and that may have been her best performance ever here for us,” head coach Mike Jordan said. “We were able to use our block to get them out of their comfort zone, and it was great to see our team disciplined, especially in long rallies.”
After struggling against Arkansas-Little Rock on Friday, the Aggies bounced back to out-hit their opponent .270-.105 while out-blocking the Huskies, 10-4. NM State also had more kills (52-42) and more digs (77-64) than NIU to pick up the afternoon win.
“It was awesome to bounce back after a bad performance,” Loerch said. “We all did what we were supposed to do and handled our assignments.”
The Aggies didn’t get the win in set one but wouldn’t be denied in sets two, three or four to pick up the victory. NM State marked only nine kills in set two but the defense was great, holding the Huskies to a negative hitting percentage. The Aggies posted six blocks in the set as NIU finished the set with six attack errors.
The NM State defense held the Huskies to only 10 kills in each of the final sets as the Aggie offense hit .294 with 15 kills in set three and .270 with 14 kills in set four. Loerch slammed down five kills in set three with seven different Aggies getting in on the action in set four. Nash finished off the match rising to the occasion with four kills and five digs in the final set.
The Aggies return to action on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. (MT), when they take on Utah in the Pan American Center. The match is scheduled to be televised by AggieVision and fans should check their local listings for show times.