PHOENIX – New Mexico State volleyball faced Grand Canyon at the GCU Arena on Thursday night. In their final road match of the regular season, the Aggies defeated the Lopes 25-20, 25-21, 25-27, 25-20. Julianna Salanoa set an NM State record in the victory when the sophomore posted a .722 hitting percentage in the four-set match.
“It was a good team win. We did a lot of things well offensively,” head coach Mike Jordan said. “We needed to defend the out-of-system ball a little better than we did but winning on the road shorthanded, I’ll take that.”
How it Happened
NM State (19-7, 9-4 WAC) came out hot and a kill by Salanoa put the Aggies ahead 8-4 early in the opening set. New Mexico State maintained its momentum and a kill by Salanoa off the GCU (11-14, 4-9) overpass sent the Aggies into the media timeout with a 15-10 advantage. Tatyana Battle ripped a ball cross-court scoring for NM State and Grand Canyon called a timeout with New Mexico State ahead 22-16. A service error by Grand Canyon brought on set point for NM State and Natalie Mikels went to Salanoa to put away the 25-20 victory in the first set.
New Mexico State began the second set on a 5-1 run, which included an ace by Briana Ainsworth, but the Lopes did not go away quietly, tying the set 6-6. A block by Salanoa and Brigette Lowe snapped the Grand Canyon rally and with Mikels behind the service line, the Aggies built their lead over the Lopes to six. GCU cut into NM State’s lead by an ace buy Kiley Tonge put New Mexico State ahead by four late in the set. A kill off a Grand Canyon overpass gave the Aggies set point and a block by Salanoa and Lowe gave NM State the 25-21 victory in the second set.
The Aggies battled back-and-forth with the Lopes and a kill by Megan Hart put New Mexico State ahead by a pair. However, the lead did not last as GCU served back-to-back aces to take the one point lead and at the media timeout, New Mexico State trailed the Lopes 15-13. NM State went point-for-point with the opposition but the Aggies found themselves down by three late in the set. New Mexico State called a timeout to stop Grand Canyon’s momentum and following the break, the Aggies rattled off three-straight to tie the set 22-22. Despite allowing the Lopes to reach to set point, a three-point rally gave NM State the 25-24 lead. It was not enough as GCU took back the momentum with a three-point run of its own to hand the Aggies the 27-25 loss in the third set.
New Mexico State jumped out to a 9-5 lead early following a kill by Salanoa. The Aggies continued to dominate the Lopes and an ace by Mikels sent the team into the media timeout leading 15-11. NM State remained in control down the stretch and after Ashley Anselmo and Hart blocked the GCU outside hitter to hold the 19-15 advantage, the Lopes burned a timeout. The break in the action did not stop NM State as the team took a 23-18 lead following an attack error from the Lopes. A kill by Hart brought on set point and Salanoa put the match away with a kill for the 25-20 victory.
By The Numbers
NM State tallied 63 kills on hitting .360 for the match. New Mexico State also posted 58 assists, 57 digs and 11 team blocks. Salanoa posted a career-high 13 kills and her .722 hitting clip puts her first all-time for a four-set match. Leading the Aggies in kills was Hart with 14 and the middle also had six blocks in the win. Battle posted her league-best 16th double-double when she recorded 12 digs and 11 kills. Ainsworth also had a double-double when the senior tallied 27 assists and 11 digs.
For their next match, the Aggies return to the Pan American Center to host WAC foe California Baptist on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 11 a.m. MT.