Las Cruces, NM — The New Mexico State University volleyball team kicked off its home schedule Friday morning, Sept. 13, at the Pan American Center by posting a four-set victory over Southern Utah, 17-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-20, during the first match of the Aggies’ home tournament. NM State improves to 2-5 on the season.
Aggie senior outside hitter Lauren Loerch led NM State by posting her first double-double of the young season, finishing with a team-high 15 kills and 10 digs. Senior Desiree Scott (11) and redshirt sophomore Bradley Nash (10) also finished the match with double-digit kills.
Senior setter Ciara Brown led the Aggies with 26 total assists, while sophomore setter Taylor Livoti was right behind with 21 assists. Livoti also marked 14 digs to finish with her third double-double of the season. Redshirt senior Stephanie Ziegler finished with a match-high 17 digs.
The Aggies could only muster a .122 hitting percentage in set one while the Thunderbirds finished with a .321 hitting percentage. Loerch led NM State with four of the 12 kills for the Aggies in set one. Although NM State’s 12 kills tied Southern Utah’s 12, the difference in the set was the attack errors, where the Aggies had seven to only three for the Thunderbirds.
NM State opened the first set strong, marking an early six-point rally to take a 7-1 early lead. Midway through the set, however, Southern Utah went on a 9-2 run to take a 13-12 lead. The Thunderbirds then used two separate four-point rallies to increase their lead to 21-14. The Aggies could not close the gap, losing the set 25-17.
Loerch added another five kills in set two to once again lead the Aggies. Ziegler also added seven digs in the set. Neither team could open up a lead during the first half of the second set. With the set tied at 12, Southern Utah marked four of the next five points to take a 16-13 lead. The Aggies, however, proceeded to go on a six-point rally to go from a three-point deficit to a three-point advantage. NM State took advantage of late unforced errors by Southern Utah to close out the set 25-21 and tie the match at one set a piece.
With momentum on their side, the Aggies continued to outplay the Thunderbirds to take set three.
Although Southern Utah marked the first two points of the set, it would be a short-lived lead. NM State stormed back taking 14 of the next 17 points to take a commanding 14-5 lead midway through the set. Outside hitter Gwen Murphy had a couple of big kills to aid the Aggie rally. NM State never looked back, winning the set 25-14 to take a 2-1 lead on the Thunderbirds.
The final set of the match, like the second, was squared off at 12 midway through the set. With the Aggies trailing 14-12, a 10-point rally by NM State put the set and the match out of the reach of Southern Utah. Loerch had three punishing kills throughout the rally that deflated the Thunderbird squad. Leading 22-14, Southern Utah tried to make a comeback, closing to within four points. The Aggies kept their composure, however, and a kill by senior middle hitter Presley Alexander ended the set and match.
NM State’s next match will be later this evening against Arkansas-Little Rock. The match is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Pan American Center.