COLORADO SPRINGS – The New Mexico State volleyball team concluded day one at the Falcon Classic by defeating host Air Force in four sets, 25-22, 25-16, 15-25, 25-20, on Friday night at Cadet East Gym.
It was the second win of the day for the Aggies (2-0), who had defeated Northeastern in straight sets earlier in the day. The Falcons (0-2), meanwhile, were on the opposite side of the coin as they had lost a five-setter to Montana before falling to NM State.
For the second-straight match it was a mix of seniors and freshmen that ruled the action for the Aggies. Senior Gwen Murphy once again led both team in kills, finishing with 16, while freshman Tatyana Battle once again finished in double figures with 12.
Freshman Brianna Ainsworth had a match-high 30 assists while senior Taylor Livoti finished with 20 helpers. Ainsworth’s 30 assists already ties the most assists in a four set match NM State had in 2014, which was also 30 when Livoti marked the number versus Bakersfield. Another senior, Andy Tauai, led the Aggies with 17 digs while sophomore Jordan Abalos added another 14 digs.
“(I’m) really happy with our performance tonight, it was a challenging environment,” Aggie head coach Mike Jordan said. “This was a good win versus a solid Mountain West opponent on their home floor. Great performances from Gwen and Taylor.”
The second match of the day for NM State pretty much mirrored the first. The Aggies fell behind early in the opening set and trailed for most of the first half of the frame. But a late big rally gave NM State the advantage as the visitors, as in the first match, stole set number one.
Again, as in the Northeastern match, the Aggies rolled in the second set, feeding off of the momentum from the previous set. But unlike the first match, NM State would go on to lose the third set handily, 15-25, the first set loss of the season for the Aggies. NM State would hit at a -.067 percentage in the set.
Yet, after feeling the disappointment of losing a set, the Aggies rallied and controlled the fourth and final set. NM State was one point away from clinching the match at 24-16 before the Falcons rallied for one final attempt to stave elimination. But after four-straight Air Force points Murphy finally put the home team away with her final kill.
The Aggies now face their toughest challenge of the weekend as they face 16th-ranked Arizona State on Saturday. The match was originally slated for a 5 p.m. start but was moved up and will now begin at noon (MT).
The Sun Devils are 1-0 after easily handling Northeastern in straight sets on Friday. NMSU concludes play at the Falcon Classic on Sunday with a matchup versus Montana.