LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State volleyball team broke a two-match losing streak by defeating the Grand Canyon University Antelopes in straight sets, 25-18, 25-16, 25-17, inside the Pan American Center on Thursday night.
The Aggies move to 12-10 on the season and 7-2 in Western Athletic Conference play. The ‘Lopes now sit at 8-13 and 2-6 in conference play.
The NM State offense out-hit Grand Canyon .244-.051. The Aggies were led by a couple of redshirt sophomores, outside hitter Bradley Nash and middle hitter Gwen Murphy, both of whom finished with a team-high 11 kills. Senior Preslie Alexander added another six kills with no attack errors to average a match-high .545 hitting percentage.
Nash also led NM State in digs finishing with 17, notching her fifth double-double of the season. Sophomore setter Taylor Livoti had a team-high 22 assists and also compiled 12 digs to also finish with a double-double, her team-leading eighth of the season. Senior setter Ciara Brown added another 19 assists.
“We tried to stay focused on the match and concentrate on what coach wanted us to change after losing two matches last week,” Murphy said. “We just wanted to keep the team together.”
The first set started off with both teams feeling out each other and trading points. The Aggies would grab their first lead of the match at 6-5. Grand Canyon would fight back, however, and NM State would not see the lead again until a 12-11 lead midway through the set.
NM State would not surrender the lead as before, winning 10 of the next 13 points to take control of the first set 22-14. The ‘Lopes would not see the lead again in the match. The Aggies would close the set with a big strike by Nash. Murphy led NM State with six of her 11 kills in the first set while the ‘Lopes could only muster a .087 hitting percentage.
Set two saw the Aggies grab an early lead with a four-point rally capped off by two kills by redshirt senior Stephanie Ziegler. NM State took an early 6-2 lead. Ziegler, along with Nash, would lead the Aggies with four kills in the set.
NM State held on to its lead throughout the first half of the set, leading 13-9 midway through. The Aggies would then mark the next four points to take a 17-9 lead that Grand Canyon could not overcome.
The ‘Lopes could not string more than two points together throughout the set and again finished with a low hitting percentage, this time at .108, while NM State hit at .432. Alexander would hit the final kill to give the Aggies a 25-16 win in the second set.
As in the second set, Grand Canyon would not muster more than two consecutive points in the third and, even worse, finished with a -.057 hitting percentage. NM State led the set from start to finish. Leading 11-8, the Aggies went on a 6-0 run that put the set and Grand Canyon away. An attack error by the ‘Lopes finished off the set and the match for NM State.
The Aggies will now play their next conference match on Saturday against Texas-Pan American. The Match is scheduled for a 3 p.m. (MT) start inside the Pan Am Center.