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NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Aggies go undefeated in Redbird Classic

Photo courtesy of NMSU Athletics.
Photo courtesy of NMSU Athletics.

With a standout performance, the New Mexico State volleyball team went undefeated, 3-0, in the Illinois State Redbird Classic and improved their overall record to 6-2 and solidified themselves as a force to be reckoned with this season. They started with a double header on Friday, against Illinois State and Miami University, then closed out the tourney on Saturday against Saint Louis.  

In their first match against the Illinois State Redbirds, the Aggies remained disciplined and consistent and swept them in three sets. They easily took the first set 25-17, ending it with double digit digs and kills at 18 and 14 respectively.  

NM State continued to attack the Cardinal’s weak backrow and were victorious 25-18. After two sets, the Aggies had more than doubled the Redbirds 14 kills with 30 of their own, 10 of which were to the credit of sophomore Ryleigh Whitekettle who has repeatedly led the team in kills thus far.  

By the end of the match, senior libero Darian Markham improved to over 100 digs, further cementing her role as a defensive staple of the team. In the final set, the Aggies finished the Redbirds 25-16 with 15 more kills to bring the match total to an impressive 45 kills.  

After the match, head coach Mike Jordan applauded his team for their all-around performance.  

“Happy to get a road sweep,” coach Jordan said. “Other than serving it, we were pretty solid at the major skills. I liked our effort defensively. This is a tough weekend. We play three times in 24 hours, so now we have to prepare for our next opponent.” 

The Aggies carried their momentum and energy into the next set and pulled off another clean 3-0 sweep. Sophomores Bianca Perez and Rilen Garcia cranked up the assists with a combined total of 36 in the match, enabling the team to steamroll offensively with Mari Sharp and Ryleigh Whitekettle each having double digit kills.  

Similarly to the first match, the Aggies continued to tally kills and finished with 43 on the stat sheet.  

“We were efficient offensively and I thought our set location was pretty good,” coach Jordan said. “I think we can block and set it better than we did. I don’t think our defense was in the right spot enough.” 

Jordan was already thinking about the next match after their second sweep of the day.   

“I’m being nitpicky, but it’s a tougher challenge tomorrow,” Jordan said. “We’ll be ready for it and hopefully we go   3-0 this weekend.” 

On Saturday, the Aggies played their final match of the weekend against the Billikens of St. Louis University. NM State played a close first set, but failed to close it out, and fell 27-25. The Aggies shook off the set and came back to win another close set and even the game out at 1-1.  

In the third set, NMSU managed to edge out a pivotal 25-22 victory and swing the game back in their favor. The Aggies continued to apply pressure to close the final set with the largest point differential at 25-18, exhibiting their perseverance as a team.  

Starr Williams led the Aggies in kills this time with 23, while Whitekettle added 15 of her own. Darian Markham, once again, led the defense with 19 digs to tally up a total of 65 digs in the tournament. On the blocking front, the Aggies earned 12 blocks, seven of which came from junior Aleka Darko. NM State racked up 58 assists, the highest of the tournament, led by sophomores Bianca Perez’s 27 and Rilen Garcia’s 19.  

After the three wins, coach Jordan reached a new milestone with the Aggies earning 550 total wins with the program. 

NM State will now travel to Tucson, Arizona for the Wildcat Classic. They will face off against their first opponent, Alabama State, on Friday, Sept. 15 at 11 a.m.  

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About the Contributor
Kaden Martinez
Kaden Martinez, Staff Writer
Kaden Martinez is entering his first year at The Round Up as both a staff and a sports writing intern. This is his first time writing for a local publication (or any publication for that matter!). He is also entering his first year as a freshman majoring in Cybersecurity with a minor in Computer Engineering. Since his dad is in the military, he has moved all around New Mexico, having lived in Albuquerque, Springer, Maxwell, and finally Rio Rancho where he graduated. He is the oldest of three siblings. Kaden has always enjoyed writing, whether it was school related or as a hobby. He decided to become a member of The Round Up both to broaden his horizons and step out of his comfort zone by trying something new. Some of his interests include exercising, playing sports, video games, TV shows, and movies.

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