The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

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

Whitekettle leads the Aggies to a 3-0 sweep against Chicago State

David Castañeda
The Aggies talk strategy at the net against the Cougars on Oct. 30, 2023.

In a rare, late season non-conference match, New Mexico State University volleyball overpowered the Chicago State University Cougars in a 3-0 sweep after an impressive offensive performance with 15 kills coming from redshirt sophomore Ryleigh Whitekettle.  

The Cougars grabbed onto an early lead after a kill from Yanlis Feliz and two Aggie attack errors from sophomore Ashley Herman and redshirt junior Kacia Brown. After giving up three points themselves, the Cougars scored seven of the next 10 points to take the lead 10-7. 

The Aggies retaliated and took advantage of several service and attack errors by the Cougars to reclaim the lead. After going on separate scoring runs, the Aggies and Cougars traded points until the Aggies held a 21-18 lead. From that point, the Cougars scored four unanswered points to retake the lead for the fourth time. 

While the Cougars had a competitive start that featured 12 ties and seven lead changes, the Aggies had a stronger finish, and powered through to take the set 25-23. Led by Whitekettle’s six kills and two from junior Aleka Darko, the Aggies tallied 17 kills in the frame.  

Both sides continued to trade points in the second set until the Aggies went on a 4-0 run to grab the lead at 7-3. Refusing to let up, the Cougars rallied four points until Whitekettle and company took over and facilitated a 12-6 to finish the set 25-16. The set highlighted a perfect six kills on six swings for Whitekettle followed by senior Mari Sharp’s five kills, while senior Darian Markham held up the defensive end with 19 digs.  

The NMSU Aggies celebrate scoring a point against Chicago State. Oct. 23, 2023. (David Castañeda)

The Aggies continued to overpower the Cougars competitiveness with another strong set. Brown led the offense to a quick 5-3 lead after recording two early kills in the third set, but both sides were continually able to side out. The Cougars managed to tie it at 21-21 before the Aggies hit a 3-0 run sparked by a solo block from freshman Maggie Lightheart. After a final kill from Brown, the Aggies capped off their last non-conference match with a 25-23 third set win.  

The sweep highlighted 15 kills from Whitekettle and seven from Darko for an impressive overall .322 hitting percentage for the Aggies. Despite remaining at 7-5 in conference play, the Aggies improved to 15-9 overall.  

After the match, head coach Mike Jordan spoke on the team’s performance coming off an eight-day rest. 

“That was a good performance from Aleka,” Jordan said. “It’s good to see her have a little bit of a breakout offensively. We had a little time off. I think it helped our legs. Sometimes with time off, the touches get a little sour and that happened a little bit, but I think in all, we beat a decent team and we swept them. I’ll take it.” 

The Aggies will return to conference play and host Sam Houston State University on Friday Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. and Saturday Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. Friday’s coverage will be streamed on 91.5 KRUX-FM.  

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About the Contributors
Victor Fierro
Victor Fierro, Sports Writer
Victor Fierro is starting his first year with The Round Up as a staff writer. He is currently a senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Sports Marketing. He developed a passion for writing when he was in high school. His main goal is to become a play-by-play announcer for an NBA team. Victor loves to write game stories for all sports including basketball and football. Victor hopes working for The Round Up will help him grow as a person and a journalist.
David Castañeda
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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