Nov. 25, 2005
Reno, Nev. - Five Aggies hammered double figures in kills, but it wasn't enough as the New Mexico State volleyball team dropped a tough five-game match to the Utah State Aggies in the second round of the WAC Tournament. The Aggies are eliminated from the tournament with an overall record of 20-7 and will await a bid for the NCAA Tournament which will be announced this Sunday. Utah State advances to the championship round of the tournament and will face the winner of the Nevada vs. Hawai'i match.
Tanya Allen (Deming, N.M./Deming HS) led the Aggies with 15 kills and 13 digs while Amber Simpson smacked 13 while putting up a team high eight block assists. Alice Borden (Anthony, N.M./Gadsden HS) had 11 kills while Kim Oguh (El Paso, Texas/Hanks HS) and Sarah Silagy (Simi Valley, Calif.) each added 10 as the Aggies hit only .150 for the match. Defensively, Jordan Bostic (El Paso, Texas/Franklin HS) led the Aggies with 18 digs while Krystal Torres (Las Cruces, N.M./Mayfield HS) added 13 and setter Jackie Choi (Corpus Christi, Texas) tallied 52 assists.
Zuzana Cernianska and Erin Graybill led Utah State with 16 kills apiece while four Aggies tallied double figures in digs.
"Utah State played a very good match tonight and they were exactly what we expected," Aggie head coach Mike Jordan said. "It was two very competitive, very exceptional teams competing out there tonight. They made more plays down the stretch than we did and I take full responsibility for this match. I should've learned from playing Hawai'i that our play calling down the stretch needed to change, but Utah State played well and deserved to win. I think we needed to lean on Simpson more offensively in game five and we didn't do that and that's my fault."
Choi got things started for NMSU in game one with a quick service ace to begin the game as Utah State countered with two points to take a 2-1 lead. Both Aggie teams then went point for point in the early stages of the game as NMSU's first block of the night by Choi and Oguh tied the game at six apiece. Utah State took their largest lead of the game at 12-7 as NMSU took a timeout to slow the opposing team's momentum and a kill by Borden soon after stopped the USU run and NMSU trailed by four at 12-8. After falling behind by five at 15-10, the Aggies managed to score six straight points to take a one-point advantage over Utah State at 16-15. NMSU reached 20 first as they led 20-18 and Choi's second service ace at 23-19 forced a USU timeout late in the first game. NMSU never let Utah State closer than four points as they put together a 20-9 run after falling behind 15-10 to win game one 30-24.
In game two Borden hammered the first kill as the Aggies jumped up 1-0 for the second time in the match and they soon added two more to stretch the lead to 3-0. The game was another close battle as USU tied the game at eight each and four straight points put NMSU down by four at 13-9 as the Aggies called their first timeout in an attempt to regroup. Utah State took their largest lead at 17-11, but NMSU trimmed the lead to four on a kill by Borden at 19-15. The Aggies then trimmed the lead to as little as three at 20-17, but Utah State continued to play strong as they held a 23-18 lead at NMSU's second timeout. USU then called their first timeout as they led NMSU 27-23, but the Aggies were never able to rebound as Utah State won game two 30-24 tie the match at one game apiece heading into the locker room.
Silagy hammered down a kill in game three to tie the game at three apiece early on, but the Aggies continued to struggle as they were later behind at 8-5 as they called their first timeout. NMSU was still behind 15-13 at they midway point of the game, but a service error by USU tied the game at 16 each before an ace by Allen gave the Aggies the one point advantage. As the teams traded points late in the game, NMSU jumped up by two at 20-18 after an ace by Choi to force a Utah State timeout and the Aggies continued to lead later at 24-20 as USU used their second timeout of the game. NMSU then called for a break as they led by only two at 26-24 and at 29-27 match point, Borden hammered the last kill to give NMSU the 30-27 win as they took a two games to one lead in the match.
A service ace by Oguh in game four put the Aggies up by two at 2-0, but USU quickly answered back with four straight points as they took the lead 4-2. NMSU then rattled off five straight points with Choi at the service line as they held a 7-4 edge over Utah State and another ace by Briana Akrie (Aurora, Colo.) at 9-5 caused USU to use a timeout. The Aggies continued to lead by four at 15-11, but two straight points by Utah State resulted in a NMSU timeout as they held a slim 15-13 lead at the halfway point of the game. Utah State regained the lead at 20-19, but the Aggies retied the game at 21 before finding themselves behind again at 24-22. USU managed to hold the Aggies off late in the game as they took game four with a 30-25 win.
As the deciding fifth game got underway with Simpson's 13th kill of the night, NMSU led 1-0, but mirroring the first four games the two teams battled for a lead as USU led early at 3-2. With a 5-4 Utah State lead, Choi dumped the ball over the net for a quick kill to tie the game at five, but again USU took the one point lead at 6-5. NMSU then led 8-6 as the two teams traded sides of the court, but an Aggie error on the ensuing serve brought Utah State within one. With a 9-8 NMSU lead, a USU block tied the game at nine before they jumped on the Aggies 13-9 and held on for the 15-13 win with a block on an Aggie attack to eliminate NMSU from the WAC Tournament.
"I don't think that we made the big plays when we needed to and our ability to sideout down the stretch was less than par," Choi said. "I can't let coach take full responsibility because the ball was in my hands a lot and we just didn't make the plays when we needed to."
"In the Sun Belt Conference, you would get a team down and they tended to roll over and give up and didn't believe they could win," Jordan said. "Here in the WAC that is certainly not the story. I'd be very disappointed if we (the WAC) didn't get three teams in the NCAA Tournament because I think that us and Utah State are both very deserving. I think that we're both top-64 and even among the top-30 teams in the country so I'd be very disappointed if we don't get in, but that's up to the deciding committee."
The Aggies will now wait until Sunday to see if they will receive a bid to compete in the NCAA Tournament which begins next week.