The New Mexico State volleyball team improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 3-1 victory over the North Dakota State Bison on Saturday afternoon at the NIU Invitational in DeKalb, Ill.
The Aggies and Bison went to extra points in set one, the Aggies' third extra points set this season, with the Aggies winning 28-26. Meredith Hays recorded ten kills in the first set and both teams hit for a high percentage, the Aggies posting a .371 hitting percentage with 19 kills against just six attack errors while NDSU hit .344 with 14 kills and just three attack errors. As they did in set four against Wichita Stte, the Aggies rallied from a late six point deficit trailing 22-16 before cutting NDSU's lead to just one at 22-21. The Aggies tied the set at 23 but a service error by Hannah Walker gave NDSU their first set point. Hays would record one of her ten kills to tie the set at 24 and the Aggies would have set points at 25-24 and 26-25 but each time the Bison would tie the set. The Aggies would get back-to-back kills from Hays and Lauren Loerch to take set one 28-26
The Bison flexed their muscle and took advantage of the Aggies' poor passing on serve receive to pound the Aggies 25-12 in set number two as the Aggies fell behind 4-0 and 8-2 and did not reach double-digits until the score was 21-10. The Bison led by as many as 13 points in the set.
After a brief intermission the Aggies came out fired up in set three and jumped out to a 7-0 lead. NDSU would score six of the next nine points to cut the Aggies' advantage to just three at 9-6 but kills by Hays and Preslie Alexander were followed by an ace by setter Taylor Livoti to push their lead back to six at 12-6. The Bison cut the Aggies' lead to three twice more, the latest at 14-11, but the Aggies would again push their lead to six at 18-12 and extended the lead to nine at 22-13. The Aggies went on to win the set 25-17 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Set four started just as set three did with the Aggies again jumping out to a 7-0 lead. The Aggies pushed the lead to nine going ahead 11-2 but four straight points by the Bison cut the Aggies' lead to just five at 11-6. The Aggies extended the lead back out taking a 17-9 advantage after a kill by Loerch. The Aggies led comfortably at 23-17 but North Dakota State rallied to win five points in a row to cut New Mexico State's deficit down to just one point. Undeterred by the Bison rally the Aggies scored the final two points of the match on a kill by Nathalie Castellanos and an attack error by NDSU's Danielle Dombeck.
Hays finished with a match-high 25 kills and hit .333. She also added 10 digs to post her first double-double of the season. Ciara Brown led the Aggies with 31 assists and also added three service aces. Stephanie Ziegler finished with 16 digs. Preslie Alexander finished with 10 kills hitting .200 on the match while Lauren Loerch finished with nine kills on 18 swings with just one attack error hitting .444.
NDSU was led by Brynn Joki who finished with 12 kills but also had nine attack errors on 43 swings hitting just .070 for the match. Carissa Whalen added eight kills on 19 swings with just one attack error and Andrea Henning recorded 13 digs.
The Bison recorded nine service aces while the Aggies had seven. The Aggies finished with seven total team blocks while NDSU finished with 12.
The Aggies wrap up the NIU invitational at 6:00 p.m. (MDT) as they take on tournament host Northern Illinois. The Huskies face Wichita State in the second match of the day.