This week: The New Mexico State volleyball team heads to Provo, Utah to play in the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Tournament taking on No. 12 national seed BYU, Friday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. (MT) The winner of the match moves onto the second round and plays the winner of the Arizona State-Oklahoma match on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. (MT)
Radio Coverage: The Aggie Sports Network is producing any post season matches on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with Jay Sanderson giving the play-by-play action. The matches airing over the radio waves produced by the Aggie Sports Network on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces can also be heard from anywhere around the world on the Internet by logging onto www.NMStateSports.com. Just click on the live events link to access the coverage for a fee.
Radio coverage for the match versus BYU will have a pre-match show starting at 7 p.m. (MT) with first serve slated for a 7:30 p.m. (MT) start.
Television Coverage: Six matches were produced for television by the AggieVision Production team this year. All those matches were also aired on ESPN3.com as well as other networks across the nation.
Live Stats on the Web: Live stats will be available for fans at www.NMStateSports.com at no cost all season long. Fans can click on the Live Events link at the top of the NMStateSports.com home page to access the live stats.
Twitter/Facebook: Get all the updates of Aggie Athletics on Twitter and Facebook. Get in-game statistics and in-game updates on Twitter @NMStateAggies. Find out about all Aggie Athletics promotions and events on Facebook (NMSU Athletics and The Aggie Student-Athlete).
About the Aggies: The Aggies earned a bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament by winning the WAC Tournament title in San Antonio last week. NM State heads to Provo, Utah with a 22-10 record on the season, while finishing the WAC regular season with a 12-6 record (fourth place).
The Aggies are currently hitting .228 as a team while holding opponents to a .174 hitting percentage. Four Aggies played in all 121 sets this season including Meredith Hays, Lauren Loerch, Desiree Scott and Stephanie Ziegler. Four different Aggies marked at least 200 kills including Hays, who heads into the tournament with 480.
NM State runs a 6-2 offense, rotating setters throughout the match, with junior Ciara Brown leading the way with 6.05 assists per set in 109 sets played. Freshman Taylor Livoti has seen action in 96 sets this year and is posting 4.93 assists per set. Sophomore Maggi Jo Keffury has gotten in the lineup in 53 sets this year and averages 4.13 assists per set.
Juniors Stephanie Ziegler and Hannah Walker have been taking on the defensive specialist duties this year with Ziegler leading the team posting 3.06 digs per set. Walker is second on the team with 2.89 digs per set. Scott leads the team defensively at the net with 148 total blocks on the year, averaging 1.22 per set. Sophomore Gwen Murphy is closest to Scott with 81 total blocks on the season. The Aggies as a team tally 2.50 blocks per set.
The Aggies are 6-1 when playing on a neutral court this season and 8-5 when playing on an opposing team's court. NM State hits .195 when playing in an opposing team's arena and hits .282 on a neutral court. The Aggies post 12.23 kills per set when playing as the away team compared to averaging 15.08 kills per set in a neutral site.
NM State started the season winning the first five matches of the year before winning only one of the next four matches. The Aggies went into WAC play with a 6-3 record and were victorious in the first conference matches of the year. In a non-conference match, the Aggies fell to I-10 Rival UTEP for the first time in 15 matches on Sept. 29 but defeated their in-state rival, New Mexico by picking up the sweep in Albuquerque on Oct. 23.
NM State lost the last two matches of the regular season before catching fire in the WAC Tournament falling in only one set during the tournament. The Aggies were 2-3 in the month of November, which is very different than the 4-0 record it had in August.
Aggies in the NCAA Tournament: This will be the sixth appearance for NM State in the NCAA tournament. The Aggies are 1-5 all-time in NCAA tournament matches. Beginning in 2003, NM State qualified for the NCAA tournament in five of the following six seasons (2003-04, 2006-08). Three of the Aggies' births into the NCAA tournament have been at-large bids while the 2012 birth was the third automatic bid for winning the conference tournament. Mike Jordan has been the head coach for all six Aggie tournament-appearance teams and the previous five Aggie teams in the NCAA tournament have all been led by an All-American (honorable mention) player.
The Aggies made their first ever appearance to the NCAA Tournament in 2003. All-American (honorable mention) middle hitter Trinia Cuseo led a team that finished the season with a 30-5 record and went undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play, including winning the Sun Belt Conference tournament and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. NM State was placed in the Honolulu, Hawai'i, region where they lost in straight sets to BYU during the first round of play. The match also marks the last time NM State and BYU have met on the volleyball court before this week's match.
NM State made its mark in the 2004 NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. The Aggies finished the season at 30-3 and were once again led by an All-American honoree, outside hitter Stevi Adams. For the second straight season NM State would finish undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play and win the conference tournament to receive the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The Aggies traveled to San Diego, Calif., where they lost to the ninth-ranked team in the country, San Diego, in straight sets.
Led by All-American (honorable mention) Kim Oguh, NM State finished the 2006 season with a 33-4 record. The 33 wins still stands today as the school record for wins in a season. After finishing the season with a No. 23 national ranking, the Aggies earned their first at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. As in 2004, NM State would have to play the host team of the regional during the opening round and lost to Colorado in straight sets in Boulder, Colo.
After receiving a No. 13 national ranking in the AVCA Top 25 poll during the 2007 season, the highest ranking ever for any Aggie athletic team, NM State received its second consecutive at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. The Aggies finished the season with a 26-6 record, with all six losses coming to nationally-ranked teams. Oguh led the team once again as she received her third-consecutive All-American (honorable mention) honor. The Aggies were placed in the Austin, Texas, region of the NCAA tournament were they faced LSU in the first round. NM State would go on to win their first-ever sets in NCAA tournament play but would eventually lose to the Tigers in five sets.
The 2008 season saw NM State earn its third-consecutive at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. Led by All-American (honorable mention) Krystal Torres, NM State's all-time career-digs leader, the Aggies finished with a 26-9 record and a share of the Western Athletic Conference regular season title. The season was highlighted by a win at Hawai'i, which at the time was the sixth-ranked team in the country. NM State traveled to Berkeley, Calif., for the NCAA regional play. Feeding off their close five-set loss to LSU during the previous year's NCAA tournament, the Aggies would go on to defeat St. Mary's College in four sets during the first round. It would be NM State's first-ever NCAA tournament victory. The Aggies would proceed to lose in the following round to host California, the eighth-ranked team in the nation, in four sets.
First & Second Round NCAA TOURNAMNT PARTICIPANTS (Provo, Utah Site)
Aggies vs. BYU: NM State is 5-27 all-time versus BYU. The teams last met in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. The Aggies fell to BYU in three sets (17-30, 17-30, 27-30).
During the season, BYU beat Colorado State 3-1 (21-25, 25-12, 25-21, 25-16) and Pepperdine 3-1 (25-15, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21), two teams that defeated NM State, both in four sets, at the Colorado State Tournament in early September.
Jennifer Hamson leads the Cougars in kills per set (4.02) and aces per set (0.32). Hamson averages 1.80 digs/set, 1.23 blocks/set and a hitting percentage of .361. Hamson was awarded WCC volleyball Player of the Year.
BYU is the No. 12 seed for the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 26-3. The Cougars will face NM State in the first round at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah.
Aggies vs. Arizona State: NM State is 6-14 all-time versus BYU. The teams last met Sept. 2,1994 with Arizona State taking the match in three sets (8-15, 3-15, 12-15).
This is the first NCAA Tournament Arizona State has been to since 2006.
Macey Gardner leads the Sun Devils in kills per set (4.46) and points with more than 600 for the season. Gardner averages 2.38 digs/set and 0.40 blocks/set. Gardner is ranked No. 15 in the nation for kills per set.
Arizona State goes into the NCAA Tournament with a 20-13 overall record. The Sun Devils will face Oklahoma in the first round of the tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah.
Aggies vs. Oklahoma: NM State is 3-1 all-time versus Oklahoma. The teams last met Sept. 1, 2000 with Oklahoma winning the match in four sets (15-6,14-16, 6-15, 9-15).
This is the sixth NCAA Tournament in seven years for Oklahoma.
Sallie McLaurin leads the Sooners in kills per set (2.86), hitting percentage (.370) and blocking with 1.41 blocks/set.
Oklahoma goes into the NCAA Tournament with a 21-10 overall record. The Sooners will face Arizona State in the first round of the tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah on Friday.
Looking Back/WAC Tournament: The New Mexico State Volleyball team took the WAC Tournament title last weekend to get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
In the first round, the Aggies swept the Denver Pioneers 25-15, 25-17, 26-24 in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Monday, Nov. 19 in San Antonio, Texas.
The Aggies hit .389 as a team with only 10 attack errors to handle Denver and head into the semifinals of the tournament. Junior middle hitter Desiree Scott led the way with a .625 hitting percentage posting 10 kills on 16 swings without a single error. Junior outside hitter Lauren Loerch added a match-high 11 kills while hitting .474, which is a season-high for her.
Sophomore Meredith Hays added nine kills and a match-high 13 digs, while junior Ciara Brown and freshman Taylor Livoti split the setting duties as they marked 22 and 21 assists respectively.
In the second round of the WAC Tournament, the No. 4 seed NM State upset No. 1 seed Utah State in the semifinals of the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Tuesday, Nov. 20 in San Antonio, Texas.
Sophomore Meredith Hays paced the Aggies offensively with a match-high 17 kills as the Crimson Aggies swept USU 25-21, 25-19, 25-16. This was a completely different match than the two regular-season matches as NM State did not allow a single USU player to get more than seven kills.
NM State served the ball tough against USU marking nine service aces with junior Stephanie Ziegler marking a career-high three, while three other players added two each. Utah State tallied only two service aces against the southern Aggies.
Junior middle hitter Desiree Scott added 10 kills against USU while junior Preslie Alexander tallied eight kills on a .615 hitting percentage. Alexander didn't make a single error on 13 swings. NM State as a team posted 47 kills compared to only 26 kills by the UtAgs.
With the Aggies running a 6-2 offense again, junior Ciara Brown marked a match-high 27 assists and freshman Taylor Livoti posting 12. Livoti was great at the service line as she forced USU to pass the ball all over the floor, while also adding two service aces.
In the final round NM State took the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Tournament title by defeating No. 2 seed Idaho, 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 27-25, 25-19) in the Convocation Center, Wednesday, Nov. 21.
NM State had four players with double-digit kill figures with sophomore Meredith Hays and junior Preslie Alexander marking a team-high 13 kills each. Red shirt freshman Bradley Nash and junior middle hitter Desiree Scott added 11 kills a piece. Hays was named WAC Tournament MVP while Scott and Ziegler were named to the all-tournament team.
The Aggies out-blocked Idaho 10-7 with Alexander leading the way with five block assists. Nash marked her first career double-double as she added 14 digs on the evening and Ziegler had a career-high 27 digs against the Vandals.
Looking Ahead: The 2012 NCAA Tournament runs from Nov. 30 - Dec. 15. After the first two rounds, teams head to regional sites, which include West Lafayette, Ind., Austin, Texas, Omaha, Neb. and Berkeley, Calif. If the Aggies win this weekend, they would head to Omaha, Neb. for the next two rounds, Dec. 7-8.
Aggies in the WAC: The Aggies were seeded No. 4 heading into the WAC Tournament, but took the title after defeating No. 5 seed Denver (25-15, 25-17, 26-24), No. 1 seed Utah State (25-21, 25-19, 25-16) and No. 2 seed Idaho in the championship match (25-20, 20-25, 27-25, 25-19).
During the tournament, NM State out hit their opponents .300 - .207 and averaged 15.80 assists/set compared to their opponents 11.5 assists/set. On the defensive end, the Aggies averaged 17.0 digs/set and 2.30 blocks/set.
Sophomore Meredith Hays lead the Aggies in kills with 3.90/set in the tournament, while Junior Desiree Scott hit well with a .371 hitting percentage and a team high of 1.00 blocks/set. Preslie Alexander tallied .90 blocks/set and finished with a hitting percentage of .393. Ciara Brown averaged 8.00 assists/set and Stephanie Ziegler lead the Aggies in digs with 5.50/set.
For the season, NM State ranks second in the WAC in assists per set (12.50) and kills per set (13.51). The Aggies are No. 3 in hitting percentage (.228) and service aces per set (1.25). In blocks, NM State is ranked fourth with an average of 2.50/set.
Desiree Scott is ranked second in the league in hitting percentage (.377) and third in blocks per set (1.22). Taylor Livoti is No. 2 in service aces with 0.32/set. Meredith Hays ranks third in points (4.51/set) and kills (3.97/set), as well as a fifth place ranking in service aces (0.27/set). In assists, Ciara Brown is ranked eight with 6.05 per set.
Record Watch: Sophomore Meredith Hays has 980 kills on her career and still needs 202 more to jump into the top 10 for kills in a career. Former Aggie Alice Borden is No. 10 on the all-time list with 1,183 kills in her career (2003-06). Hays is averaging 4.19 kills per set on her career which is atop the all-time kills per set list at NM State.
Hays is currently No. 6 on the kills-in-a-season list with 480 this year. She is also No. 2 on that list as she posted 500 kills last year. Former Aggie Kayleigh Giddens holds the record for kills in a season with 542 in 2010, while Hays could possible surpass former Aggie Angela Lobendahn-Perterson (Utah native) who tallied 494 kills during the 2000 season.
Junior Desiree Scott has 300 career-total blocks heading into this week's play. She needs 19 more total blocks to enter the top 10 at NM State. Former Aggies Kelsey Brennan (2008-11) and Whitney Woods (2007-10) are tied for 10th in career-total blocks with 319.
Scott, who has 148 total blocks this year, is now sitting in the No. 9 spot for total blocks in a season. She surpassed Karen Yelich who posted 147 blocks in 1982 and Kristin Webster who marked 145 total blocks in 2001.
Scott moved into the No. 7 spot for block assists in a season with 121. She needs eight more block assist to tie for fifth on the list with former Aggie All-American (HM) Kim Oguh, who put up 129 block assists in 2007.
If Scott's .377 hitting percentage holds up this year, she will be tied for the No. 3 spot on the season-hitting percentage list, just behind former Aggie middle hitters Amber Simpson and Kristen Webster. Simpson hit .387 in 2006 and Webster hit .385 in 2001.
AGGIE SPOTLIGHT/POSSIBLE STARTERS
Taylor Livoti (setter): Livoti is one of two setters head coach Mike Jordan uses on a regular basis as the Aggies run a 6-2 offense. She averages 4.93 assists per set and could be considered one of the best servers on the team as she has tallied 31 aces this year, which is second best on the team. She marked a career-high 26 assists twice, last doing it on Sept. 9 against Colorado State. Livoti has three double-doubles on the year.
Meredith Hays (outside hitter): Hays was named 2012 WAC Preseason Player of the Year, 2012 WAC Tournament MVP and 2012 first team All-WAC. She needs just 20 kills to reach 1000 on her career and could be the first Aggie to tally at least 500 kills in two different seasons. She is averaging 3.97 kills per set this year, which is down from her 4.19 kill per set career-average.
Preslie Alexander (middle blocker): Alexander is average 1.91 kills per set this season but did well in the WAC Tournament as she averaged 2.70 kills per set in 10 sets played. She has marked double-digit kill figures seven times this season with her career-high coming against Northwestern when she posted 14 kills, Sept. 1. Alexander also has 58 total blocks on the year with nine coming in the WAC Tournament.
Bradley Nash (OPP/middle blocker): Nash tallied her first career double-double as she put up a career-high 11 kills and a career-high 14 digs in the title match of the WAC Tournament versus Idaho. She previously put up 11 kills in a match against Utah State on Nov. 3 as NM State fell 3-1 in Las Cruces.
Ciara Brown (setter): Brown is one of two setters used in the 6-2 offense that head coach Mike Jordan runs. She leads the team with 6.05 assists per set and has tallied at least 15 assists in 27 matches this year. She tallied at least 25 assists 15 different times and marked a career-high 31 assists in the WAC Title match against Idaho, Nov. 21. She also tied her career-high for service aces that day with three.
Nathalie Castellanos (OPP): Castellanos is a native of Vado, N.M. (5 miles south of Las Cruces) and graduated from Gadsden High School where she led her team to two-straight state titles. As a freshman, Castellanos earned a spot on the floor with hustle and hard play. She is averaging 1.39 kills per set and marked a career-high nine kills against rival UTEP. Castellanos has marked at least five kills in 11 matches this year.
Desiree Scott (middle blocker): Scott is a first team All-WAC selection and a WAC Tournament all-tournament team member. She tallied 31 kills (3.10/set) and posted a .371 hitting percentage to go along with 10 total blocks to lead her team to a 2012 WAC title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Scott tallied a career-high 19 kills against Texas State, Nov. 8 and has tallied at least 10 kills in 13 matches this year. She is hitting .325 on her career, which is in the top five for hitting percentage in a career at NM State.
Lauren Loerch (outside hitter): Loerch is a 2012 All-WAC preseason selection and a second team All-WAC selection. She is averaging 2.55 kills per set and is one of four Aggies to play in all 121 sets this year. She marked a career-high 19 kills against nationally ranked Pepperdine on Sept. 8 and tallied a career-high .474 hitting percentage in the opening match of the WAC Tournament. She also had 11 kills in that match as the Aggies swept Denver.
Stephanie Ziegler (libero): Defensive specialist Stephanie Ziegler has played in all 121 sets this year and is averaging 3.06 digs per set. She is fully recovered from a leg injury she sustained two season's ago and is the now the defensive leader for the team. Ziegler began her career as an outside hitter but has made the transition to defensive specialist. Although, she does take some swings on offense as she has 26 kills on 109 attempts this year.
CSU Ram's Classic All-Tournament Team: Sophomore Meredith Hays was named to 2012 Rams Volleyball Classic All-Tournament team after she averaged 4.45 kills and 2.09 digs per set in three matches. Hays started the weekend with 11 kills as she led the Aggies to their first sweep of the year, defeating FIU on Friday, Sept. 7. Hays then marked 22 kills on a .318 hitting percentage in a 3-1 loss to No. 12 Pepperdine before posting her fourth double-double of the season as she added 13 digs. Hays heads into WAC play averaging 4.60 kills per set which is second in the league, but leads the conference in points per set with 5.31.
Scott on All-Tournament Team: Junior middle hitter Desiree Scott was named to the La Quinta Invitational Tournament after she marked 21 kills (1.75/set), a .389 hitting percentage and 13 total blocks. Six of those blocks were solo.
Scott had a great offensive showing against Cincinnati, Aug. 31 as she tallied eight kills on nine swings without an error for a .889 hitting percentage. In the very next match, against Drake, Scott did work on the defensive side of the net tallying seven total blocks, five of them solo. She also added eight kills to lead the Aggies to their fifth consecutive win of the year.
NIU All-Tournament: Sophomore Meredith Hays was named the NIU Tournament MVP, while juniors Desiree Scott and Preslie Alexander joined her on the all-tournament team. Scott finished the tournament with 18 kills and 16 total blocks while Alexander averaged 2.42 kills per set in 12 sets played. This is Scott's third year with the Aggies, while Alexander is a transfer from Blinn Junior College.
WAC Preseason Poll: The WAC volleyball coaches selected NM State to win the WAC regular season title in 2012. The Aggies received eight of the 10 first-place votes with Idaho earning the other two. The Aggies earned 79 total points, followed by Idaho with 67. UTSA was picked to finish third with 58 points, followed closely by Utah State in fourth with 57 points and Texas State in fifth with 52. Denver was picked sixth with 43 points, while San Jose State was selected seventh with 34 points. UT Arlington, Seattle U and Louisiana Tech rounded out the poll with 27, 18 and 15 points, respectively.
Preseason All-WAC: NM State placed the most players on the preseason All-WAC team with three, including sophomore Meredith Hays as Preseason Player of the Year, while Idaho, UTSA and Utah State had two apiece. Joining Hays on the preseason team are teammates Lauren Loerch and Desiree Scott, Idaho's Alex Sele and Allison Walker, UTSA's McKenzie Adams and Whitney Walls, Utah State's Shay Sorensen and Joselyn White, Denver's Faimie Kingsley, San Jose State's Alex Akana and Texas State's Amari Deardorff.
Hays, was a 2011 first team All-WAC member as a freshman and was also the 2011 Freshman of the Year. She was only the second Aggie ever to earn that honor. She led the WAC and ranked 18th in the nation in both kills per set (4.42) and points per set (4.94). Hays also led the WAC with 500 kills on the season. Scott played in 98 sets as a sophomore last season, ranking second on the team in blocks per set (0.78) and third in total blocks (76). She was a perfect six kills on six attempts during a sweep of Utah State on Oct. 1, 2011.
Loerch, a cousin of former Aggie great Stevi (Adams) Maytubby, comes to NM State as a transfer from California. She was a part of the 2010 Bear team that reached the NCAA National Championship match against Penn State.
Returning Top Stats Leaders: The Aggies welcome back outside hitter Meredith Hays, who not only led her team but led the WAC with 4.42 kills per set. Redshirt junior Stephanie Ziegler was third on the team in 2011 with 2.17 kills per set. Unfortunately, NM State lost Kelsi Phillips who led the team in service aces (35) and digs (4.13/set) and will look to some newcomers to replace her. Hays was third on the team last year in digs (2.53/set), while junior Desiree Scott was third in total blocks (76).
Jordan Back for 15th Season: Head coach Mike Jordan enters his 15 year with NM State and heads into the weekend with a 330-148 overall record, and 101-267 in WAC play. He earned WAC Coach of the Year honors in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and also earned Coach of the Year honors twice in the Sun Belt Conference (2003 and 2004).
Jordan is the only NM State volleyball head coach to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament, which he has done five times (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008). He is also the only Aggie head coach to ever lead his team to a conference title as he led his team to titles in both the Sun Belt Conference and the WAC. NM State is the first team to either share or hold the WAC regular-season title since BYU and Hawai'i shared the Pacific Division title in 1998.