NM State Volleyball 1-1 after back-to-back games

Juliana Trujillo

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Emma Hood

NM State won against Stephen F. Austin State, but lost against Sam Houston State the following day

The New Mexico State volleyball team traveled to Phoenix for a back-to-back matchup against Stephen F. Austin State University and Sam Houston State University. The Aggies battled and swept SFASU on Thursday, but dropped Friday’s match 1-3 to SHSU.  

Led by junior Katie Birtcil with 22 kills, the Aggies passed, set and hit well against the SFA Lumberjacks. Although their serving was inconsistent, NMSU maintained control of the court throughout the three sets.  

The first set started with both teams communicating loudly. The Aggies were strong and powerful and quickly got off to a lead. Redshirt sophomore Cat Kelly initiated the teams’ aggressiveness at the net. Birtcil, Lia Mosher, and Shaney Lipscomb followed, earning kills and blocks. The speed of NMSU’s offense completely overpowered the SFA defense and the set concluded 25- 19.  

Stephen F. Austin came out stronger in the second and stayed in contention for a while until the Aggies earned a 7-2 run. NMSU was then able to maintain the lead for the rest of the 25-20 set. SFA continued to rally, but five kills by sophomore Mari Sharp prevented the Lumberjacks from catching up. The set finished with a powerful net presence by Lia Mosher and aces from Lauryn Taylor and Darian Markham 

The third set started slightly slower for both teams, however, timely kills by Birtcil gave way to a 8-3 run. A strong Aggie defense coupled with the Lumberjacks hitting errors led to their unimpressive 0.036 hitting percentage and a 25-15 win for NMSU.  

NMSU Head Coach Mike Jordan was excited about the win but still looking for his team to improve. “We played reasonably well against a solid team.” Jordan said. “We were solid passing and attacking it. Carly’s setting and playing really well. We can serve it better but it was a good team win.”  

Senior setter Carly Aigner-Swesey finished with her fourth double- double with 43 assists and 14 digs. Aigner-Swesey, the “quarterback” of the team, ran the offense and delivered to her hitters.  

Despite the momentum on their side, the Aggies struggled against the Sam Houston State Bearkats and were defeated 3-1.  

Birtcil and Lipscomb put on an offensive show with 16 kills, but the Aggies fell short with their defense and serving efforts.  

NMSU started the first set very error prone and allowed the Bearkats to take a 10-5 lead. The back row defense and blocking efforts were unable to withstand the fast offense by SHSU. Even though Lipscomb battled for the Aggies, they were outworked 25- 18.  

Strong serving by Aigner-Swesey started a 3-0 run for NMSU in the second set. More aware of the fast paced offense on the opposing side, the Aggies set up their block better and were able to help out the back row defense. NMSU then brought in freshman setter Alana Embry who connected well with her hitters. She initiated a new fire in the front row, especially with Lia Mosher, and NM State secured a 25-13 win.  

The crucial third set determined the downfall for the Aggies. They were off to another slow start, but were eventually able to grab the lead. The Bearkats then regained control of the court and went on a 11-4 run that led to a score of 20-15. SHSU essentially made less errors and capitalized on hitting opportunities.  

The fourth set started neck and neck with the lead changing sides and ties between the two. Birtcil, Lipscomb, and Mosher were effective at the net but not as strong as the opposing offense. The Aggies had several mental errors, which the Bearkats capitalized on and defeated NMSU 25-17.  

Head Coach Mike Jordan spoke on the team’s downfalls after the game.  

“We were out competed tonight, but all credit goes to Sam Houston,” Jordan said. “We were good enough offensively but did not serve it at a high enough level. And then our block and digs were even worse than our service game. Hopefully, we’ll learn how to toughen up when adversity hits.” 

The Aggies will now rest and improve for their rematch at California Baptist. NM State looks to defeat CBU for the first time this season, Thursday Oct. 28, at 8 PM MT.  

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