CHICAGO – It was not easy – anything but, in fact – but in the end the NM State volleyball team returned to the win column.
Shaney Lipscomb pounded down a team-high 15 kills, Lia Mosher hit .524 while contributing 13 more terminations and the Aggies staved off an upset bid from WAC foe Chicago State by coming back for a 3-2 win over the Cougars Thursday night inside the Jones Convocation Center.
SET ONE | Chicago State 25, NM State 20
• Kills from Cat Kelly and Lia Mosher helped the Aggies jump out to a quick 3-1 lead, but the early stages of the match would prove to be one of the lone high points for the visitors through the frame.
• The Cougars answered the Aggies’ early spurt on offense with one of their own. Yanlis Feliz pounded down a pair of kills to lead Chicago State on a 7-2 run and NM State never led again in the frame.
• Chicago State’s edge bulged to as high as nine points, 20-11, before the Aggies attempted to mount a late comeback. Carly Aigner-Swesey, Katie Birtcil, Shaney Lipscomb and Mosher each contributed a kill to an 8-3 NM State surge which allowed the visitors to close the gap to four points, 23-19.
• Unfortunately, the Cougars’ nine-point advantage proved to be too much to overcome for NM State. Chicago State hit an even .200 in the set and while the Aggies’ attacking clip of .205 wasn’t much better the Cougars’ three service aces coupled with three service errors by the Aggies allowed the home team to get the jump on the two-time defending WAC champions.
SET TWO | NM State 25, Chicago State 20
• A swapping of the set one score occurred in the second and it was the Aggies who had to battle back from an early deficit to knot matters at one set apiece.
• Four of the set’s first seven points went to the Cougars before terminations by Birtcil and Mari Sharp powered a 3-0 NM State run to ensure Chicago State never led again.
• An 8-8 deadlock was broken by a 5-0 NM State run which featured a pair of service aces from Aigner-Swesey. The last of those winners at the service line hiked the visitors’ advantage to 13-8.
• The Aggies didn’t relent from there, pushing their lead as high as six points by the time the set was in the books. A Chicago State attack error followed up with another kill by Sharp allowed NM State to extend its lead to 23-17.
• Chicago State cut the Aggies’ edge to four points, but Lindsay Blakey and Mosher teamed up for the last of three NM State rejections in the frame to close out a 25-20 Aggie victory.
• NM State’s defense came alive in the set, allowing the Cougars to hit just .075. Aigner-Swesey contributed two of her team’s three service aces in order to equalize things.
SET THREE | Chicago State 25, NM State 14
• Outside of NM State generating two of the set’s first three point, almost nothing went right for the Aggies in the third.
• Directly after NM State opened up its 3-1 lead, Chicago State conjured up back-to-back kills to take a 3-2 lead and the Cougars didn’t fall behind for the rest of the frame.
• NM State kept it close after an unforced attack error by the Cougars pulled the visitors within one, 8-7, but Chicago State’s response came in the form of a 10-3 run which put the Aggies in an 18-10 hole.
• The Cougars’ lead expanded further, moving to 23-11 and NM State was forced to focus on trying to force a fifth frame. Chicago State’s hitting percentage in the frame reached .364 while NM State hit .237.
SET FOUR | NM State 25, Chicago State 12
• Needing to force a fifth set if they wanted to win, the Aggies had every intention of getting to that deciding frame once the fourth set started. Coming out like gangbusters, NM State took off on a 12-3 run to start the frame.
• Aigner-Swesey came up with one service ace while Mosher added two more through the Aggies’ strong start. Lipscomb chipped in two kills, too, through that scoring spree.
• Not slowing down in the slightest, NM State pushed its massive lead to 21-9. Back-to-back terminations by Blakey ended the set and extended the match to a decisive fifth frame. The Aggies’ offense hit a fine .333 in the frame while limiting the Cougars to a clip of .188.
SET FIVE | NM State 15, Chicago State 11
• Chicago State managed to grab the early lead, but a key NM State run when the set was knotted at eight helped the visitors finish off their comeback victory.
• Three-straight Chicago State attack errors helped NM State take an 11-8 lead. The last of those miscues came on a massive solo stuff by Kelly.
• Kills by Lipscomb and Mosher coupled with unforced attack errors by the Cougars provided the pivotal final four points of the Aggies’ victory.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• NM State improved to 18-0 all-time against Chicago State with Thursday night’s win.
• Thursday night’s showdown was just the second five-set match ever played between the Aggies and Cougars.
• One of the major keys in the Aggies’ win was the floor defense of libero Darian Markham. NM State’s player in the off-colored jersey amassed a match and career-high 32 digs in the win.
• Freshman Alana Embry turned in a 10-assist, 11-dig double-double during the victory. Aigner-Swesey finished with a team-best 31 assists to go along with three of her team’s seven service aces.
• Mosher manufactured a match-best four blocks to help NM State own an 8-3 advantage in rejections.
• A strong all-around defensive effort by NM State held Chicago State to a hitting percentage of just .079 in the five-set marathon. NM State finished with a team attacking clip of .184.
• The efforts of Feliz may not have been enough to give the Cougars a win, but they were impressive nonetheless. The WAC’s leader in kills per set pounded down a match-high 23 terminations and completed a double-double effort by scooping up a team-high 19 digs.
COMING UP NEXT
• A showdown between the top two teams in the WAC’s West Division looms for the Aggies as they return to the Pan American Center for a big-time league tilt. Thursday night at 7:00 p.m., NM State is set to duke it out with Grand Canyon in Las Cruces.