LOGAN, Utah - The New Mexico State volleyball team had three match-point opportunities but wasn't able to seal the deal and lost in set five 18-16 to fall 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19, 16-18) to Utah State, Thursday, Oct. 27, in Logan, Utah.
The Aggies have now fallen in three of the last four meetings with USU and drop to 18-6 overall and 7-2 in WAC play this season. NM State had won the previous nine matches in a row, including five in Logan.
NM State fell behind 8-5 in the final set but battled back to take a 10-9 lead. After USU took a 13-11 lead, the Aggies fought back and scored three-straight points to force match point at 14-13. NM State wasn't able to wrap up the match but had two more chances at 15-14 and 16-15. The Aggies from Utah scored three consecutive points to pull off the upset.
Freshman outside hitter Meredith Hays posted a career-high 25 kills in the loss and is the most kills for any Aggie this season. Hays also tallied her 10th double-double of the year as she added 12 digs. Both teams had seven service aces in the match with sophomore Jene Coppedge tying for a match-high three aces. Hays added two aces and now leads the team with 22 on the year.
Senior middle Kelsey Brennan played an efficient match as she hit .520 on the night marking 15 kills on 25 attempts with only two attack errors. She also added four block assists and three digs for a total of 17 points on the evening. Senior setter Jennah DeVries had a match-high 59 assists to go with seven digs and six kills. She hit .600 in the match with 10 attempts and no errors.
NM State was out-blocked 14.5-12.0 with sophomore Desiree Scott leading the Aggies with two solo blocks and three block assists. Scott also added eight kills to have an impact on match and senior Michelle Kuester posted five block assists and eight kills for 10 points on the evening. Senior Kelsi Phillips had a match-high 14 digs and sophomore Stephanie Ziegler struggled a bit with eight kills, eight attack errors and eight digs.
Hays led NM State with six kills in the first set but seven attack errors by the Aggies proved to be the difference as NM State fell 25-21. NM State took a 9-8 lead on a DeVries kill but USU went on a 6-2 scoring rally to go up 14-11 before winning the opening set.
NM State won set two after it was tied at 8-8. The Aggies posted a 9-4 scoring run to go up 17-12 and won 25-19 after hitting .467 as a team. NM State marked 15 kills on 30 attempts with only one error. Hays led the way with five kills and Ziegler added four.
After leading 2-0 early on in the third set, USU scored seven straight points and took a 7-2 lead. NM State fell behind by as many as nine points and struggled throughout the set hitting only .057 on 35 attempts. Two Aggie hitters posted negative hitting percentages and USU added four service aces. With a 20-16 lead, Utah State went on a final 5-2 scoring rally to win 26-18.
NM State rallied back in the fourth set and won 25-19 to push the match to a fifth and deciding set. The Aggie offense came back to life and hit .429 as a team with 16 kills on 28 attempts and only four errors. Hays posted seven kills in the set and Brennan was a perfect 4-of-4 offensively. The Aggies also marked three of its seven service errors in set four with Coppedge posting two.
The fifth set saw NM State hit only .027 as a team with 10 kills on 37 attempts, but the difference this time was the nine attack errors. Five of those errors came because of the Utah State block. NM State fought throughout the set falling behind by as many as four points but eventually tied it up at 14. The Aggies had three chances to win but lost 18-16.
NM State heads to Moscow, Idaho to face the University of Idaho, Saturday, Oct. 29 at 8pm (MT). Radio coverage will be available in Las Cruces on KSNM AM 570 with Kyle Doperalski giving the play-by-play action.