Behind 20 kills from sophomore outside hitter Meredith Hays the Aggies opened up the 2012 season with a thrilling 3-1 victory over Wichita State on Friday evening in DeKalb, Ill.
The Aggies and Shockers treated fans free volleyball early on as play was tight throughout the first set. Neither team led by more than four points the entire set as Wichita State held an early 8-4 advantage which was erased with the teams sitting tied at 11. The Aggies would build a 19-16 lead but five consecutive points by the Shockers gave them a 21-19 advantage forcing an Aggie timeout. The Shockers would get to set point leading 24-22 but the Aggies would stave off two set points behind a pair of Hays kills. The Aggies would then go ahead 25-24 on a hitting error by WSU's Emily Adney but Wichita State tied the set at 25 and then again at 26. The Shockers held set points at 27-26 and 28-27 but the Aggies tied the set each time. The Shockers would finally win the set 30-28 on a kill by Emily Adney.
Undeterred by the close loss in the first set the Aggies came out in set number two and built an 11-7 lead. New Mexico State would go on a 5-2 run to take a 16-9 advantage and built that lead to double digits at 21-11 behind kills by Meredith Hays and Bradley Nash and a hitting error from WSU. The Shockers cut the Aggies' lead to seven points at 22-15 but New Mexico State held on for a 25-16 victory to tie the match at 1-1.
Coming out of the intermission the Shockers build a 10-8 advantage but the Aggies tied the set at 10 with consecutive points. The set was tied at 12, 14 and 17 points before the Aggies put together consecutive points to take a 19-17 lead. The Aggies led 22-19 and scored three of the final four points of the set to hold on for a 25-20 victory taking a 2-1 advantage.
In the fourth set the Shockers scored four consecutive points after the Aggies had gone ahead 5-4 to take an 8-5 lead. WSU's lead would grow to four points at 12-8 before a mini Aggie run cut the lead down to one at 12-11. WSU scored six of the next seven points to go up 18-12 and appeared on their way to forcing a fifth set as they led 20-14 after a Sam Sanders kill. However, the Aggies would start to rally as a service error from WSU's Chelsey Feekin started a 6-0 run for the Aggies tying the set at 20. The Aggies received kills from Gwen Murphy, Meredith Hays and a pair from Preslie Alexander to go along with a WSU hitting error during the point run.
After a WSU timeout the Shockers would seem to retake control of the set scoring three consecutive points to go up 23-20 but once again the Aggies would score three straight points to tie the set at 23. WSU would earn a set point at 24-23 but the Aggies rallied with three consecutive kills by Lauren Loerch, Meredith Hays and Desiree Scott to stun the Shockers in the fourth set 26-24 winning the match 3-1.
The Aggies hit .312 in the match including a third set hitting percentage of .545 in which they had just one attack error in 33 swings recording 19 kills.
Hays led the way with 20 kills hitting .357 with just five attack errors on 42 swings. Preslie Alexander had an impressive debut as an Aggie finishing with 11 kills on 24 swings with just four attack errors. Desiree Scott was equally impressive with 10 kills on 15 swings and just one attack error. Bradley Nash added seven kills on 20 swings in her return to action and was impressive at the service line. Lauren Loerch added seven kills in her Aggie debut and freshman setter Taylor Livoti recorded a double-double with 20 assists and 10 digs while fellow setter Ciara Brown added 26 assists and seven digs.
Ashley Andrade led the way for WSU with 12 kills while Elizabeth Field and Katie Reilly each added 10 kills. WSU hit .214 on the match. Each team finished with eight total team blocks.
The Aggies return to action on Saturday as they face North Dakota State at 11:00 a.m. (MDT) and then wrap up the tournament against host Northern Illinois at 6:00 p.m. (MDT).