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Volleyball Falls to #11 UCLA

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It’s a tall task anytime that a New Mexico State team plays a ranked opponent. Tonight at the Pan Am Center, it was the Aggie volleyball team that was faced with the challenge of playing the #11 UCLA Bruins in the Springhill Suites Invite. In fact, UCLA quite literally was a “tall task.”

Their front line included three players listed at 6 feet, 3 inches and over, those being Mac May (6’3”), Madeleine Gates (6’3”), and Emily Ryan (6’4”). Conversely, the Aggies’ front line consists of the 6’2” freshman middle blocker Lia Mosher, 6’1” outside hitter Kassandra Tohm, and the 6’2” senior middle blocker Sasha-Lee Thomas. UCLA defeated the Aggies in three sets, winning the first set 25-22, the second set 25-23, and the third set 25-17.

Despite the sweep, head coach Mike Jordan was impressed with the way his team played against the nationally-ranked Bruins, who improved their record to a perfect 4-0 on the season. After tonight’s loss, Jordan’s Aggies have dropped to 2-3 on the season. At tonight’s conclusion, Jordan referred to a point in the first set when his team trailed 17-13, and was able to finish the first set with 22 points. He said that at that point in the match, he thought that his team was playing as well as they had at any point in the young season.

“UCLA is loaded with talent and experience. Obviously, they can make you look bad if you’re not playing well. We were right there in those first two sets, it was close, so obviously, we did a lot of things right,” Jordan said. The Aggies lost the first set 25-22 and the second set 25-23. The third set wasn’t quite as close, but the Aggies still managed to score 17 points.

The biggest difference in the game was UCLA’s size. According to Jordan, that’s something that a team can’t do much about.

“It’s tough to deal with that. You’ve got to take some chances, you’ve got to serve it tougher so
that they don’t get better angles attacking it. When they’re allowed to get the angle they want, and jump to a ball, it’s really tough to deal with what they have,” Jordan said.

It can be hard to take away positives in a sweep, but Jordan pointed out plenty of those. “I thought we did some good things. We made some great digs, extended some rallies, gave ourselves some transition opportunities, but UCLA was a little too much for us.” Another bright spot for the Aggies was Lia Mosher’s performance. Mosher finished the match with 4 kills on 13 attempts and 5 blocks. Junior outside hitter Tatyana Battle also had a nice game with 8 kills on 21 attempts and a block. Kassandra Tohm lead the Aggies in kills with 9. She also had 2 blocks.

Jordan has been impressed with Mosher’s progress this season. “We haven’t set her a lot, but we’re trying to get to the point where we can set her more. She’s working really hard and making some progress.” Mosher was the only one of the eight Aggie freshmen to crack the starting lineup tonight.

UCLA was led by their 6’1” senior outside hitter Reily Buechler, who finished the match with 11 kills on 31 attempts to go along with a block and 8 digs. She was assisted on the night by her two twin-tower teammates Madeleine Gates and Mac May. Gates finished the match with 9 kills on 21 tries and 6 blocks, while May had 8 kills and 3 blocks.

Tomorrow, both teams will play against UNLV. The Aggies will volley off with the Runnin’ Rebels at 7:00, and UCLA will play them at 9:00 a.m. UNLV is 4-2 on the season, with wins against Southern Utah, Binghamton, Eastern Washington, and Eastern Kentucky, and losses to UC-Davis and North Dakota.

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The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907
Volleyball Falls to #11 UCLA