The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tonight as they take on Utah State in a battle of the Aggies. Utah State sits right behind the Aggies in the WAC standings at 5-1 while the Aggies are 5-0. A win by New Mexico State would give them at least for the time being a two match lead in the standings, a third of the way through the conference slate.
Winning every conference match is always a goal for every team but for New Mexico State it has become almost a must. The first batch of RPI ratings came out on Monday and much to our surprise the Aggies were 99th in the RPI. That is well outside the range that is considered at-large territory (somewhere in the 30 to 50 range is where you're shooting for). Despite what appeared on the face of it to be a solid schedule and despite no truly "bad" losses (teams ranked lower than RPI 150), the Aggies have not gotten the kind of help they'd hoped for from their opponents, particularly the ones they've beaten. The Aggies' best win to date is still their opening weekend win over Wichita State (RPI 54). Unfortunately the Aggies' other wins over North Dakota State, Cincinnati, Northern Illinois have not carried the kind of weight they'd hoped for with those teams struggling this season to a combined 21-31 record and RPIs of 143, 144 and 106 respectively.
The Aggies have one more shot at a Top 100 RPI victory before the conference tournament and that will be against Rio Grande Rival New Mexico. The Lobos are 15-4 overall and have an RPI of 63 which is bolstered by a win over Colorado State.
The Aggies won't get any help from their WAC slate as they're the highest rated RPI team in the conference at 99. The next closest are UTSA (130), Utah State (133), Idaho (139), Texas State (142) and Denver (163). The remaining teams are hovering around the 200 mark or worse with Louisiana Tech dragging everyone down with an RPI ranking of 309th out of 330 teams.
Unfortunately scheduling can be a crapshoot and you just never know how good or bad a team may end up being. Unfortunately for the Aggies what looked like a really strong non-conference schedule has turned into one that won't get them into the NCAA tournament without winning the WAC's autobid. It would certainly be a different story had they picked up a couple of wins in their matches against Colorado State, Pepperdine and Northwestern.
Back to Utah State. The UtAgs have given the Aggies some trouble over the course the two teams' time together in the WAC and this season will of course be the last time they meet (at least for a while) as conference foes. Utah State has actually won three of the past four meetings between the two clubs but prior to that the Aggies held a nine-game winning streak in the series.
USU are led by the trio of Josselyn White (2.97 k/s), Shay Sorensen (2.93 k/s) and Rachel Orr (2.88 k/s). Utah State is very balanced on offense and are also very solid defensively. The team averages three blocks per set and 13.95 digs per set led by Ashlan Rogers' 4.04 digs per set.
This should be a very entertaining match tonight and as we said, it's a big time opportunity for the Aggies to solidify their hold on the WAC lead.
The match is slated for a 7:00 p.m. (MDT) start and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required) with Jay Sanderson giving the play-by-play call.
Teddy Feinberg of the Las Cruces Sun-News features middle blocker Desiree Scott.
The Utah State athletic website previews tonight's match.
Teddy Feinberg of the Las Cruces Sun-News takes a look at the Aggies' struggles.
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