The New Mexico State volleyball team capped off a perfect weekend as they rallied past a sluggish start against Northern Illinois to claim the NIU Invitational tournament by defeating the host school 3-1. The Aggies used a stifling defense over the final three sets en route to the victory recording 19 total blocks and holding NIU to a negative hitting percentage for the match.
Meredith Hays finished with 18 kills and was named tournament MVP and teammates Preslie Alexander and Desiree Scott were each also named to the All-Tournament Team.
After a less than desirable start to the match which saw the team lose 25-14, the Aggies regrouped in set two jumping out to a 7-4 lead early. The Huskies tied the set at 9-9 on a service ace by Mary Kurisch but the Aggies responded with six consecutive points to take a 15-9 lead. NIU trimmed the deficit in half getting as close as 16-13 but the Aggies went on a 4-1 run spurred by a solo block by Bradley Nash to take a 20-14 lead. The Huskies cut the lead to four at 23-19 but the Aggies finished off the set getting a kill from Meredith Hays and a service ace from Preslie Alexander to take the set 25-19 tying the match at one set apiece.
Out of the intermission the Aggies kept rolling jumping out to an 11-3 lead. NIU rallied cutting the Aggies advantage to just three points at 12-9 but the Aggies responded pushing the lead out to six at 16-10. Four straight points from the Huskies cut the lead down to two prompting an Aggie timeout but that was as close as the Huskies would get the rest of the way. New Mexico State responded out of the timeout with three consecutive points to take a 19-14 lead. A kill by NIU's Sara Angelos would bring NIU to within four at 20-16 but the Aggies would rattle off five consecutive points to take set three 25-16.
After losing the first point of set four the Aggies scored four unanswered to to take a 4-1 lead. NIU would end the scoring streak by the Aggies bringing them to within two at 4-2. The Aggies continued to lead by two at 7-5 but stretched the lead out to 10-6. After a kill by the Huskies' Emily Paschke made the score 10-7 in favor of the Aggies, New Mexico State turned on the afterburners scoring six straight points to take a commanding 16-7 lead. NIU scored consecutive points to cut the Aggies' lead down to 16-9 but the Aggies responded with a 5-0 run to stretch their lead to double-digits at 21-9. NIU would score one more point in the match and the Aggies ended the set and the match by scoring the final four points winning 25-10.
Meredith Hays' 18 kills were a match-high followed by eight kills from Preslie Alexander and six from Lauren Loerch. Hays also added 11 digs to record a double-double, her second of the season. Stephanie Ziegler added 19 digs and Ciara Brown dished out 23 assists to go along with six digs.
The Aggie defense was spectacular in the final three sets as they recorded 19 total blocks including six solo blocks. Bradley Nash finished with four block assists and two solo blocks and Desiree Scott finished with nine block assists and a solo block for the Aggies.
MacKenzie Roddy led NIU with 11 kills but also had 13 attack errors hitting -.044 on the match. NIU as a team hit -.014 recording 40 kills but 42 attack errors. The Aggies hit .156 on the night.
The Aggies return home next weekend as they host a tournament that will feature Cincinnati, Drake and Northwestern.