LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State volleyball team improved to 9-2 after sweeping UTEP 26-24, 25-23, 25-18 in the Pan American Center, Tuesday, Sept. 13. NM State has not dropped a match to the Miners since Nov. 21, 2004 when UTEP won 3-1 in El Paso. The Aggies are now on a 14-match winning streak over UTEP.
Senior Kelsey Brennan and freshman Meredith Hays powered the offense with 12 and 13 kills respectively with Hays marking the fourth double-double of her career as she added 10 digs. Senior libero Kelsi Phillips also tallied 10 digs and senior setter Jennah DeVries marked a match-high 34 assists.
Although NM State marked more attack errors than the Miners did, the Aggies found a way to come out with the victory. The Aggies tallied 40 kills compared to UTEP’s 35 and out-blocked the Miners 10-8. NM State also posted four service aces with sophomore Stephanie Ziegler serving two of them.
“We made a lot of silly errors and I think we can go back and learn a lot from our mistakes,” head coach Mike Jordan said. “Sometimes you win ugly, but we were still able to come up with the win.”
NM State took an early 5-2 lead in set No. 1 after Hays got the 1,830 fans in attendance on their feet with a monstrous kill. After a service error by the Miners that took the score to 11-6, the Miners would win seven of the next nine points to tie it at 13 all. A huge block by senior Michelle Kuester and Brennan made the score 21-17, but the Miners used a six point rally to take a late 23-22 lead. The set would tie for the fourth time at 24-all, however the Aggies took the next two points to win 26-24.
The second set saw 12 ties and seven lead changes with the final tie of the set coming at 20-20 when Brennan slammed down her eighth kill of the match. The Miners cut the lead to within one at 23-22, but another hard hit ball by Hays gave NM State a 24-22 cushion. After a point by UTEP to squeeze the Aggie lead to one again, DeVries marked her only kill of the match to help her team to a 25-23 victory.
NM State put its offense together in set No. 3 tallying a .333 hitting percentage with only three attack errors in the set. The Aggies forced UTEP to make seven attack errors and three service errors to assist NM State to its ninth victory of the year. A late rally gave NM State some separation at 20-14 and the Aggies finished off their I-10 rivals scoring the final two points of the match.
NM State now heads to Evanston, Ill., for the Wildcat Classic hosted by Northwestern, Sept. 16-17. NM State faces Colgate at 3:30pm (MT) and the action can be heard on KSNM AM 570 with Kyle Doperalski giving the play-by-play action.