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Volleyball: Aggies finally get first league win

LAS CRUCES – The New Mexico State volleyball team hosted Seattle U in a Western Athletic Conference match at the Pan American Center on Thursday night. The Aggies took down the Redhawks. 31-33, 25-17, 25-13, 25-17 for the team’s 17th-straight victory at home, but only their first in three conference matches.

“The first set looked a lot like last week with our failure to defend and execute. Following that set, I challenged the team and we defended better and that gave us more opportunities,” head coach Mike Jordan said. “We certainly didn’t play great, but Seattle U is a pretty good team. They have some length, they can bother you and they serve it great. I thought when we defended better and kept the ball off the floor, that’s when we started playing better.”

How it Happened

NM State (11-5, 1-2 WAC) came out flat against SU (8-7, 1-1 WAC), giving up an 8-0 run to start the match. Slowly the Aggies crept back into the opening set with serving runs while Natalie Mikels and Tatyana Battle were behind the service line. A solo block by Battle helped tie the set 13-13 and an attack error by the Redhawks gave NM State the 18-17 advantage. Late in the set, an ace by Megan Hart gave the Aggies the one-point lead and a kill by Battle extended the advantage and forced SU to call a timeout. Despite leading 23-21, NM State allowed Seattle U to tie the set 23-23. The teams continued to exchange points late into the set but after getting blocked on two-straight points, New Mexico State fell 33-31.

The Aggies saw success early when Battle served back-to-back aces to give NM State a two-point lead. After tying the set 4-4, New Mexico State rattled off a seven-point scoring run with Jordan Pleasants serving. Another rally brought NM State ahead 20-14 and three-point run that included a block by Hart and Savannah Davison closed out the 25-17 second-set victory.

In the third set, the Aggies kept their momentum going when they jumped out to a 7-2 early. NM State extended its advantage 12-4, forcing the Redhawks to call a timeout in hopes of slowing the hot Crimson and White offense. The break in the action worked as New Mexico State gave up a pair of aces during a 4-0 run by SU. The Aggies built back their momentum and a block by Julianna Salanoa and Ashley Anselmo put NM State ahead by seven. The lead grew to 10 and back-to-back aces by Pleasants gave New Mexico State the 25-13 win in the third set.

Looking to take control early, an ace by Battle gave NM State the 5-2 advantage. A point run that included a block by Salanoa and Battle allowed the Aggies to pull ahead by six, but Seattle U did not go away easily and came within a pair of the NM State lead down the stretch. Steadily, NM State forged ahead and a block by Salanoa and Brigette Lowe put NM State in front 21-16, making the Redhawks use a timeout. After a serving error by SU late in the game, Briana Ainsworth secured the victory by serving three-straight points, which included an ace, giving NM State the 25-17 victory and the four-set win

By The Numbers

New Mexico State tallied 52 kills on hitting .142 for the match while also holding Seattle U to a .011 hitting percentage. The Aggies also recorded 90 digs, 47 assists, 14 blocks, and 11 aces in the victory. Ainsworth posted her fourth double-double of the season when she recorded 22 assists and a career-best 19 digs. Battle earned her ninth double-double when she posted a match-best 18 kills accompanied with 16 digs.

NM State welcomes Grand Canyon on Saturday, Sept. 29 for a match in the City of Crosses. First serve from the conference clash is set for noon MT.

Box score: New Mexico State 3, Seattle U. 1

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