LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State volleyball team remained in first place in the Western Athletic Conference by defeating Chicago State in three sets, 25-18, 25-16, 25-13, Saturday night inside the Pan American Center.
The Aggies move to 18-10 overall and 13-2 in WAC play while the Cougars fall to 2-26 overall and remain winless in WAC play at 0-14. With one conference game left, NM State moves to 1-1/2 games up on second-place Utah Valley, who was idle on Saturday and has two conference games left.
The Aggies spread the ball around evenly on Saturday as no one finished with double-digit kills. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Bradley Nash led the team with nine total kills to go along with four service aces and seven digs. Senior Lauren Loerch and redshirt sophomore Gwen Murphy each added eight kills while senior middle hitter Desiree Scott added another seven. Murphy only had one attack error to finish with a team-high .700 hitting percentage.
Sophomore setter Taylor Livoti led NM State with 19 assists while senior setter Ciara Brown added another 16. Brown and redshirt senior Stephanie Ziegler each had eight digs to pace the Aggies.
NM State never trailed throughout the first set, but could not pull away from the Cougars during the first half of the set. Up 15-13, the Aggies finally created some space between the teams by winning the next four points, culminating with three consecutive service aces by Nash, to take a 19-13 advantage. NM State won the final two points of the set to win 25-18.
Murphy led the early charge for the Aggies with four kills in the first set and no attack errors to finish the set with a perfect hitting percentage. As a team, NM State hit a .500 percentage to Chicago State’s .200.
Early in the second set the Cougars saw their first lead of the match at 3-2. It would be short-lived, however, as the Aggies went on a four-point rally right after to take a 6-3 lead. Another four-point run later in the set increased the NM State lead to 11-6, but like in the first set Chicago State hung around and cut the Aggie lead to 12-10 midway through the set.
Nash paced NM State in set two with a couple of big kills during the second half of the set. Yet another four-point rally by the Aggies, punctuated by a Nash kill, gave NM State a nine-point advantage at 22-13. The Aggies closed the set, 25-16, with a kill by senior middle hitter Preslie Alexander.
Nash finished the second set with four kills to lead NM State. The Aggies’ hitting percentage dropped to .233 in set two, but the Cougars finished on the negative side with a -.059 hitting percentage.
Up 6-5 in the third set, NM State proceeded to win seven of the next eight points to take a 13-6 lead that Chicago State could not overcome. The Aggies marked the final four points of the set to win the set and match, 25-13. NM State finished the final set with a match-high .609 hitting percentage.
The Aggies will now go out of conference for a match against I-10 rival UTEP on Tuesday, Nov. 12, slated to start at 7 p.m. (MT) inside the Pan American Center. NM State will then conclude its season with a matchup against Utah Valley.