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Volleyball: Aggies top Grand Canyon for fifth straight win

PHOENIX – New Mexico State ran its winning streak to five straight in beating Grand Canyon 3-1 in Western Athletic Conference action Thursday night at GCU’s Antelope Gymnasium.

NMSU (14-5, 4-0) remained unbeaten in WAC play, downing GCU (2-14, 0-4) 25-22, 2522, 17-25, 25-19, but Aggies coach Mike Jordan didn’t think his team played all that well.

“We were not very good, especially in the second and third sets,” said Jordan. “We were very high in errors, which is something that we have not been much this year. Our attack choices left a lot to be desired, but other than that we did some solid things. Fortunately we rebounded and played a very good fourth set.”

One of the solid things the Aggies accomplished was getting the ball to Gwen Murphy. The senior All-America candidate from Elfrida, Ariz./Valley Union recorded 16 kills while hitting .538 for the match, adding six total blocks and two service aces.

“Gwen is a spectacular player,” Jordan beamed. “I’m getting closer to playing her more on the left than in the middle. I think she’ll hit for a great percentage wherever she plays. Our setters did a nice job of finding her in the right spot. She wants the ball and that’s what great players do.”

NMSU senior Nathalie Castellanos of Vado, N.M./Gadsden added 12 kills and three blocks for the Aggies.

GCU was paced by Melody Horton who recorded 10 kills with three total blocks and three service aces.

The Aggies had an uncharacteristically high 28 attack errors in the match and hit negatively (-.071) in the third set. NM State hit only .185 in the match, but forced GCU to hit just .127.

“You know Lou Henson once told me years ago, ‘Mike, no matter what you do, how good your team is, how well prepared, whatever the case, three times a year your team’s going to play bad. Your only hope is that the team you’re going to play doesn’t play great.’ And tonight was one of those nights for us,” Jordan added.

The Aggies continue their road trip, traveling to face CSU Bakersfield on Saturday. The Runners swept UT Rio Grande Valley 3-0 on Thursday night and sit a game behind the Aggies with a 3-1 record in the WAC.

“They’re a good team. They just beat Seattle U in Seattle,” said Jordan. “They play really hard and they’ve got a lot of good arms. I’m sure it will be a tough contest at their place.”

First serve is set for 2 p.m. Mountain on Saturday and will be streamed live on the WAC Digital Network.

 Box score: New Mexico State 3, Grand Canyon 1

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