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New Mexico State volleyball falls at home for first time of the season against UTRGV

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New Mexico State volleyball falls at home for first time of the season against UTRGV

The New Mexico State volleyball team loses in five sets to UTRGV despite the program's first

The New Mexico State volleyball team loses in five sets to UTRGV despite the program's first "Pack the Pan Am" promotion.

Mitchell Allred

The New Mexico State volleyball team loses in five sets to UTRGV despite the program's first "Pack the Pan Am" promotion.

Mitchell Allred

Mitchell Allred

The New Mexico State volleyball team loses in five sets to UTRGV despite the program's first "Pack the Pan Am" promotion.

The New Mexico State volleyball team lost a thriller to UT Rio Grande Valley 3-2 (24-26, 25-13, 22-25, 25-22, 13-15) in a packed Pan American Center on Saturday, ending their home win-streak of 20 matches that dates back to Sept. 1, 2017 when they fell to a then-ranked No. 11 UCLA.

“Sometimes you’re gonna lose… Streaks are meant to end at some point,” NM State head coach Mike Jordan said. “I don’t even know that the players worry about [losing the home win-streak]. The main motivation is winning the conference, winning the conference tournament and getting to the NCAA tournament.”

NM State managed to establish a 24-19 match-point lead in the first set before errors (which they had 11) and communication issues allowed for UTRGV, who had only six kills, to go on a 7-0 scoring run that sealed an opening set win for the Vaqueros.

“When you’ve got a lead like that late, and you just make error after error after error, and just do egregious things and drop a set like that, it costs you,” Jordan said. If we win that set like we probably should’ve, it’s a different story.”

The Aggies were able to switch gears as they started the second set, cutting down their errors significantly and improving their hitting percentage from .103, to .357 on their way blowing out UTRGV 25-13.

After a back-and-forth third set win for the Vaqueros and a tight-but-sure fourth set victory where NM State never trailed, it all came down to one final game to 15.

A strong kill by Aggies’ Ashley Anselmo energized the home crowd to start the set, giving them early momentum until UT Rio Grande Valley answered,  clawing back to a 5-5 tie. Points were exchanged throughout the entirety of the fifth set, but UTRGV’s Alexandra Eckler had a strong kill that set up a match-point for the Vaqueros, setting up a block by Talita Oliveira and Ragni Steen Knudsen that would seal the deal and end the Aggies’ hot Pan Am stretch.

Tatyana Battle picked up the 14th double-double of her senior campaign, with 15 kills and 10 digs for the Aggies. Natalie Mikels and Briana Ainsworth also earned double-doubles of their own, with very similar stats. Mikels had 27 assists and 13 digs, while Ainsworth put up 28 assists and 13 digs. Freshman Cat Kelly led the Aggies in kills with a career-high 18.

“We knew they were doubling inside a lot, so we knew we could get her one-on-one or even one-on-none situations and she capitalized on them,” said Jordan, “We’ve got a lot more confidence in her than we did earlier in the season. She did a lot of good things offensively.”

Saturday match’s was the first time NM State ran a “Pack the Pan Am” promotion for volleyball, leading to a season best attendance mark of 2,495 that Jordan called the best crowd of the year.

“[The crowd and the energy] was great,” Jordan said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t deliver a win.”

This loss is the first at home for the Aggies this season and snaps the second-longest home win-streak in program history, trailing only the 27 home win-streak that spanned from 2005-07.

NM State volleyball looks to bounce back on Thursday, Nov. 1 for a road bout against Seattle.

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New Mexico State volleyball falls at home for first time of the season against UTRGV