Courtesy of NMSU
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The New Mexico State volleyball team began the 2015 campaign by defeating Northeastern in straight sets, 25-21, 25-13, 25-23, on Friday during the opening match of the Falcon Classic hosted by the Air Force Academy.
The Aggies (1-0) found different ways to win each set, coming back late to steal the first set, easily winning the second and finally winning the third and final set that saw 11 ties and was back-and-forth throughout.
“We’re happy with the win, we made some plays when we needed to and showed a lot of physical ability,” said NM State head coach Mike Jordan. “Obviously, being the first weekend it’s not always smooth or pretty to watch, but we’re happy with the win.”
It was a great mix of young and experienced talent for the Aggies. Senior Gwen Murphy and Freshman Tatyana Battle each finished with a match-high 11 kills while senior Taylor Livoti and freshman Brianna Ainsworth both finished with double-digit assists, Livoti with a match-high 15 assists and Ainsworth right behind with 14 helpers. Livoti was also tied with Jordan Abalos for the team lead with eight digs.
Murphy also finished with a match-high .429 hitting percentage. As a team, NM State outhit the Huskies .267 to .094. Northeastern was hurt by a total of 20 attacking errors, although the Aggies were not far behind with 17 of their own.
NM State began the first match of the season a little tense and saw the Huskies (0-1) win four of the first five points of set number one. A Murphy service ace would tie the set at 7-7, but Northeastern would not surrender the lead and at the midway point led 14-11.
The Aggies would once again rally to tie the set at 16-16, but three-straight points by the Huskies opened up a 19-16 lead for the team from Boston heading to the final portion of the set. Yet, at the most opportune time, NM State finally got its first big rally of the year, a six-point rally that turned a three-point deficit into a three-point 22-19 lead and gave the Aggies their fist lead of the match.
The Huskies would mark a couple more points, but NM State would take 9 of the final 11 points to steal set one 25-21. Murphy already had over half of her kills, six, after one set of play.
With momentum, the Aggies easily won the second set. NM State would have early runs of four, three and six points to open up a 15-5 lead. The six-point rally was aided by five-straight attacking errors by Northeastern.
The next three Aggie kills came off the arm of Battle as NM State held on to its big lead, and after another four-point rally the Aggies led 24-11 en route to taking a 2-0 lead in the match. NM State would hold the Huskies to a -.156 hitting percentage during the set.
The final set was perhaps the most competitive as Northeastern fought to stay alive while the Aggies tried to close out the match. The Huskies would take an early 9-6 lead after a four-point rally, but NM State would tie the set up at 11-11 after yet another Northeastern attacking error. It would already be the fifth tie of the set.
After the 10th tie of the set at 17-17, the Aggies seemed to finally pull away after marking four-straight points, the final two coming on two more Murphy service aces. The Huskies, however, would not go away quietly as they came back to once again tie the set, this time at 23-23. But the rally would come up short as senior Andy Tauai recorded her third kill of the match before Northeastern committed its 20th and final attacking error to give NM State the victory.
The Aggies continue play at the Falcon Classic by meeting host Air Force tonight beginning at 7:30 p.m. The match will have live stats and a live video stream available for free. Visit the volleyball schedule page at www.NMStateSports.com for links to both.