Aggie volleyball knocks off previously unbeaten Arizona

LAS CRUCES  – New Mexico State volleyball took down Arizona at the Pan American Center as a part of the SpringHill Suites Invitational on Saturday. The Aggies stunned the Wildcats in a five-set thriller, knocking off Arizona 25-16, 17-25, 23-25, 27-25, 15-12 and handing the team its first loss of the season.

“I’m really happy for our team. We haven’t been able to knock off Arizona and last year’s loss was a bitter pill to swallow. It’s a much better feeling this year,” head coach Mike Jordan said. “I’m really proud of Ashley Anselmo and Megan Hart. They did a lot of great things whether it be attacking the ball or blocking the ball. Everyone that played contributed in one way or another We still have a lot to learn but we’re making progress.

How it Happened

NM State (7-2) came out hot to start the match, jumping out to a 7-3 lead to force Arizona (8-1) to call at timeout. New Mexico State’s lead grew to 14-7 and the Wildcats looked to stall the Aggie offense by calling their final timeout of the set. NM State founds its rhythm dominated its way to a 20-12 advantage late in the set before closing the opening set victory 25-16.

In the second set, the Aggies found themselves fighting back-and-forth with the Wildcats early in the set until a five-point rally by the Wildcats put New Mexico State behind 16-10. Late in the set, NM State went on a run with Savannah Davison serving to reach 18-15, but it wasn’t enough as Arizona rattled off a five-point run to close out the 25-17 New Mexico State loss in the second set..

Looking for gain momentum in the third set, NM State jumped out to a 4-0 lead but the Wildcats stayed the course and came within one early in the set. The Aggies were able to build back the four-point advantage down the stretch, however a late surge by Arizona allowed the Wildcats to take the 19-18 lead late. A kill by Megan Hart tied the set and back-and-forth battle continued. NM State pulled ahead 23-22, after Hart hit another kill but after allowing a three-point Wildcat run, ultimately the Aggies fell 25-23.

After going point-for-point with the Wildcats in the fourth set, New Mexico State fell behind by four after a point rally by Arizona. A surge by NM State with Tatyana Battle at the service line brought the squad within a point forcing the opposition to call a timeout at 14-13. The Aggies continued to battle and a four-score momentum swing with Natalie Mikels serving tied the set 23-23. Continuing to fight to a 25-25 stalemate, New Mexico State proved to be clutch on both sides of the ball as a Savannah Davison kill and a block by Hart sealed the come-for-behind 27-25 victory.

In the final set, Arizona jumped out to an early 6-3 lead, forcing NM State to call a timeout. The Wildcats extended their lead to four but when it came time to switch sides of the court, the Aggies trailed by just a pair.  A kill by Cat Kelly and a block by Hart and Davison tied the set 8-8 with Arizona calling a timeout looking to stop the momentum. The Aggies continued to play clutch down the stretch and a solo block by Ashley Anselmo followed by a kill from the backrow by Battle put the Aggies ahead 11-9. New Mexico State capitalized on its lead and after a service error by Arizona gave the Aggies match point, Battle struck with a kill from the outside, finishing off the 15-12 victory in the fifth set and the 3-2 win in the match.

By the Numbers

As a team, the Aggies posted 58 kills on hitting .228 while also recording 60 digs, 55 assists and 10 blocks. Savannah Davison tallied a team-high 15 kills accompanied with 13 digs for her third-straight double-double. Battle followed closely behind with 14 kills while Hart notched 12 as the third New Mexico State player hitting double figures in the match.

With the victory, NM State extends its home-winning streak, which dates back to the 2017 season, to 16 matches. The win is also the program’s first over a Power-5 school since defeating North Carolina on Aug. 30, 2008 and the first win at home over a school from a power conference since defeating Texas Tech on Sept. 10, 2003. The victory is also the Aggies first win over Arizona since volleyball because an NCAA sanctioned sport in 1981.

New Mexico State closes the weekend with a match at UTEP on Sunday, Sept. 9, with first serve scheduled for 1 p.m. MT.

Box score: New Mexico State 3, Arizona 2

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