Aggies Reach Tournament Finals
The New Mexico State volleyball team heads back to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship for the first time since 2009 after sweeping Idaho (25-22, 25-22, 25-16) in The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
NM State defeated the No. 2 seed Vandals by spreading the ball around as three players finished with double-digit kill figures. WAC Freshman of the Year Meredith Hays led the way tying for the match-high with 18 kills. Idaho's Allison Walker also posted 18 kills in the match but it wasn't enough and the Vandals missed out on their first ever appearance in the WAC Championship match.
Hays was one of two Aggies to post a double-double on the night as she finished with a team-high 15 digs, while sophomore outside hitter Stephanie Ziegler tallied 14 kills and 12 digs to go along with a solo block. Ziegler finished the night scoring 15 point and Hays tallied 20.5 points as she added two solo blocks and one block assist.
"We are excited to get a chance to get back to the championship match and excited that we have given ourselves a chance to get back to the NCAA Tournament," head coach Mike Jordan said.
Senior setter Jennah DeVries guided the offense with a match-high 41 assists and added eight digs with one block assist on the defensive side of the net, while senior libero Kelsi Phillips posted 14 digs and three assists. The Aggies as a team out-hit the Vandals .333 to .211 and out-blocked Idaho 7-5.
The stage was set immediately in set one as there were 13 ties and four lead changes. The Aggies fell behind by as many as three but took their first lead at 6-5 when sophomore Desiree Scott marked her first kill of the night. The final tie of the set came at 16-16 and a kill by Hays gave the Aggies a 17-16 lead before NM State came out victorious at 25-22.
There were six ties and three lead changes in set two. The Aggies took a three point lead at 15-12 when a Vandal middle hitter tallied an attack error to force Idaho into a timeout. A kill by Brennan later in the set kept the Aggie lead at three at 21-18 before Ziegler posted her 11th kill of the match to give the Aggies a 25-22 win.
NM State wore down the Vandal defense and won the third and final set 25-16. After a 2-2 tie early in the set, the Aggies marked three consecutive kills with two coming from Ziegler. A couple of Vandal errors and a Hays' kill gave NM State a 9-5 lead and forced Idaho into its first timeout of the set. Idaho fought back and pulled to within one at 10-9 but NM State took off and went on a 15-6 run to win the set and the match.
The Aggies play in the WAC Championship match at 7pm (MT), Wednesday, Nov. 23 in The Orleans Arena. The match will be televised nationally on ESPNU and will also be broadcast over the radio waves in Las Cruces on KSNM AM 570 with Kyle Doperalski giving the play-by-play action.