NM State drops WAC opener to UTRGV
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The Aggies (7-5, 0-0 WAC) got off to a bumpy start to begin their quest for a fourth-straight Western Athletic Conference regular season title as they fell in straight sets to visiting UT Rio Grande Valley (12-4, 0-0 WAC).
After being on the road for eight of its 10 non-conference matches, NM State started conference play in front of a home crowd of nearly 1,000 fans – 936 to be exact. Despite the Aggies posting better numbers than UTRGV in assists and digs, the Vaqueros still managed to exit the Pan American Center with its first win over the Aggies since 2018.
Individually, the Aggies were led by a pair of transfers in Molly Johnson who tallied nine kills and Jayde Shelton who recorded five kills while posting a .444 hitting percentage.
Johnson was also one of the Aggies’ top defenders on the night as she finished with six digs – second only to Aggie Libero Darian Markham who posted 12. Johnson and Mosher also recorded three blocks apiece.
The opening set began with a bit of see-saw action as the two sides with tied at 11-11 before UTRGV rattled off three-straight points.
Down four, NM State pushed back scoring two-in-a-row capped by a kill from middle blocker Lia Mosher. However, NM State would be on the losing end of six of the next seven points to find itself trailing 23-16.
The Aggies would show resistance, but UT Rio Grande Valley would finish off the set – winning 25-19.
The second game of the night began with a 6-0 run from UT Rio Grande Valley – putting the Aggies in an immediate hole.
NM State would do its best to dig out of that hole but would not inch any closer than four points throughout the remainder of the set.
Ultimately, the 6-0 deficit the Aggies began the set with would be the same deficit it would end the set with – falling 25-19 in the second frame.
Unlike the second set, the third set would remain all square through the first 12 combined points. With the score at 6-6, the Vaqueros went on a 4-0 run as it appeared it would run away with the set. Just then, the Aggies received a kill from freshman Anji Vishwanathan to kick start a three-point streak and draw back within one point.
The period of runs would continue as UTRGV outscored the Aggies 7-2 over the next nine points to take a 17-11 lead.
Later in the set, while trailing 23-18, the Aggies made one final push to pull back within two points. However, UT Rio Grande Valley would eventually take the set 25-22.
- Molly Johnson finished just one kill shy of posting her fifth double-digit kill effort of the season.
- In just her fourth appearance of the season, Anji Vishwanathan recorded her second-straight match with a block while also tallying the first kill of her young career.
- Rylee Fay recorded an ace in the third set of the match to increase her season total to a team-best 23. She has also now recorded at least one ace in nine of 12 matches this season.
- Three matches after returning from an injury, Alana Embry posted a season-high six assists.
NM State will play in its second match of a four-match home stretch on Saturday afternoon as they host California Baptist. First serve is set for 1 p.m.
Fans can purchase tickets to the midday match at this link while those unable to attend can tune in to the action on wacinternational.tv.