LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – New Mexico State defeated UTEP 3-2 in five sets on Wednesday night to split the first Conference USA Battle of I-10 series the schools have ever played. The Miners won the first match on Tuesday night.
UTEP drops down to 11-6 overall (3-3 Conference USA) while NM State improves to 12-5 (5-1 CUSA).
SET ONE | A wild start to open the match consisted of 16 tied scores with both teams going back and forth on taking over as set leader. Weaver drew three consecutive points with two kills and a block as UTEP led, 8-6. UTEP’s next six points were all kills by four different Miners and an Aggie error, 14-11. NM State whipped out a 5-0 run to regain the lead, 15-14. Two kills by LaCour and Lovesee with an ace by Mattie Gantt flip the set back to UTEP, 19-18. NM State was first to set point, 24-23. The set went into extras resulting in an Aggie 29-17 win.
SET TWO | NM State grabbed a 9-5 lead forcing an early UTEP timeout. The Aggies had a 3-0 run due to a successful challenge to lead by four, 13-9. UTEP responded with three straights to shrink the deficit, 13-12. The Miners tied the set at 16 and 17 all on two NMSU errors. UTEP got three more kills before the Aggies closed the set at 25-22 for the 2-0 advantage in the match.
SET THREE | Both teams went back and forth in the first half of the third frame as UTEP got a hold of the lead with NMSU only being able to knot things up on six occasions before UTEP ran up a 4-0 lead go into and coming out of the media timeout, 17-12. Weaver’s dominance at the net forced an Aggie timeout, 20-14. Four Miners put down four more kills to stay in the match, 25-18.
SET FOUR | UTEP duplicated set three with another 25-18 win. The Miners remained in full control of the set, never giving up the lead to the Aggies. Six kills by the Miners and two NMSU errors forced an NMSU timeout at 8-4 and again at 14-7. UTEP’s Washington, Weaver, and Darley stretched the lead by eight, 19-11. UTEP ended the set with four kills by four Miners to even out the match and force a fifth set.
SET FIVE | it all came down to execution in the final set. The Aggies led 8-6 at the media timeout. Coming out of the break, both teams put down back-to-back points to force the opponent to sidebar. Each team went 1-for-1 for five serves until NMSU knocked in two going into set point. UTEP had one final kill by Ovalle before NMSU walked away with the 15-12 win.
UTEP will return home this weekend to host FIU, while NMSU hits the road to play Liberty. Both of those will be two-game series.