The Aggies swept the Cougars 25-18, 31-29, 25-20 for the contest. With the victory, the Crimson and White secured the two seed in the 2018 WAC Tournament.
“I’m proud of our seniors for finishing with a win at home and doing so much for this team these last four years,” head coach Mike Jordan said. “I think the fact that we are 22-7 with all the injuries we’ve had and graduating so many players the year before says a lot about the senior’s leadership.”
How it Happened
NM State (22-7, 12-4 WAC) jumped out to a hot start holding a 7-0 advantage over Chicago State (9-24, 3-13 WAC) to start the match. CSU countered with a 4-0 rally but a setter dump by Briana Ainsworth stalled the opposition’s momentum. New Mexico State built back a nine-point lead when Julianna Salanoa hit a kill off an assist by Natalie Mikels but CSU did not go away quietly, cutting NM State’s advantage to three. Savannah Davison’s kill broke up the rally and with the freshman serving, the Aggies took a 19-11 lead late in the set. Despite a late run by the Cougars, a kill by Tatyana Battle gave NM State the 25-18 victory in the opening set.
In the second set, New Mexico State fell flat, trailing Chicago State by four early. The Aggies clawed their way back, coming within a point of the opposition but a seven-point rally by Chicago State put NM State behind 18-10. Small scoring runs allowed New Mexico State to chip away at the lead and Mikels’ 40th ace of her sophomore campaign left NM State behind 20-19 late in the set. Despite allowing the Cougars to reach set point, an Aggie run with Ainsworth serving tied the game. Back-and-forth the teams fought and a kill by Ashley Anselmo gave NM State the 30-29 edge before an attack error by the Chicago State gave New Mexico State the 31-29 victory in the second set.
After going back-and-forth to start the third set, the Aggies surged ahead with a four-point scoring run with Battle behind the service line to take a 13-11 lead. Despite the rally, the Cougars tied the set and 13 and even claimed a one-point advantage. New Mexico State continued to fight and a momentum swing with Mikels serving put the Aggies ahead by four. The lead held for NM State late in the set and after a kill by Brigette Lowe gave the Crimson and White set point. A kill by Savannah Davison followed, putting the 25-20 victory away while also completing the sweep of Chicago State.
By The Numbers
NM State posted 46 kills on .258 hitting for the victory. The team also posted 50 digs, 44 assists and nine blocks. Davison led the squad with 13 kills in the match while Battle followed closely behind with 11. Senior Ainsworth tallied a double-double in her final regular-season match, recording 23 assists and 15 digs.
New Mexico State travels to Bakersfield, Calif., for the 2018 WAC tournament which takes place at the Icardo Center Nov. 22-24. The second-seeded Aggies earned a first-round bye and are set to play the winner of the match between the third-seeded UMKC Roos and the sixth-seeded Seattle U Redhawks on Friday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. MT.