at California Baptist
10/20/2022 | 8 p.m
october 20 (Thu) / 8 PM
at California Baptist
LAS CRUCES, NM – The Aggies (11-7, 3-3 WAC) faced a familiar foe in a mid-season non-conference matchup, dropping Chicago State (5-11) in three sets on Wednesday night (25-22, 25-9, 25 -10).
“We’re just not yet in a spot where we’re real confident as a group and so we’re a little tentative, but fortunately, we started to relax a little bit and a couple of people really started playing well and that was a big difference in the match,” noted head coach Mike Jordan.
“Molly Johnson has really started to develop into what we hoped she could become and I was excited to see some of our talented younger athletes like Kaylee Peterson be able to get some playing time. We’ll now try to take advantage of a little bit of rest and try to reinvigorate the energy levels before we get going again at the beginning of the week.”
Playing without star right-side hitter Katie Birtcil, the Aggies still managed to fire on all cylinders, hitting .326 as a team and adding four service aces while holding Chicago State to a .018 clip and recording seven blocks on the night.
The dominant attack numbers led to the Aggies finishing the night with their most lopsided set victories of the season from a point perspective – winning set two by 16 points before finishing off the match with a 15-point win in the third set.
Molly Johnson and Mari Sharp tied for the lead in kills with 11, while Johnson notched ten digs – posting her third-straight double-double. Darian Markham also posted double-digit digs with 13 on the night.
FINAL | Putting the ‘W’ into Wednesday🤪
Johnson – 11 kills, 10 digs
Sharp – 11 kills, 9 digs
Mosher – 5 kills, 7 digs, 3 blocks#AggieUp pic.twitter.com/OXc6GBhy8g
— NM State Volleyball (@NMStateVBall) October 13, 2022
NM State started the match with a 4-1 run before Chicago State was able to turn the tides, scoring eight straight points to put the Cougars ahead 9-4 and force the Aggies to burn a timeout and regroup.
Three straight kills put NM State back within two, however, Chicago State would maintain its distance for much of the first set as they grasped on to a 21-16 lead later in the first frame.
It was this moment that seemed to be a turning point for the Aggies not only in the set but also the match as they tallied three blocks to fuel a set-deciding 9-1 run.
The Aggies utilized their new-found momentum to jump out to a controlling 10-2 lead in the second set. The early burst came as a result of a complete team effort as four different Aggies (Sharp, Whitekettle, Shelton, Johnson) each tallied a kill while Sharp added a service ace among the first 10 points.
The Cougars were finally able to record back-to-back points to draw back within seven. Later, the Crimson and White would compile five straight to stretch its lead to 12 (19-7) on the heels of an ace from the right hand of Rylee Fay.
NM State would then finish off the set with a 6-1 run that included a pair of kills from Molly Johnson and a kill from senior Kaleigh Thomas – giving the Aggies a 25-9 set win.
Early on in the third set, Chicago State looked as though it would display some resistance as they trailed by just one after 11 total points had been played.
Behind some strong cheers from 869 fans in the stands, the Aggies turned up the heat as they put together a 7-1 run to take a 13-6 advantage.
After some back-and-forth action, NM State rattled off five-straight points, including a combo block from setters Rylee Fay and Lia Mosher, to take a commanding 21-9 lead. Chicago State would only manage one more point for the remainder of the match as the Aggies went on to claim a 25-10 set-three win while moving to 20-0 all-time against the Cougars.
- As a team, the Aggies finished with their third-highest hitting percentage of the season – hitting .326 while posting 37 kills on just 92 attacks.
- Meanwhile, the NM State defense limited Chicago State to a hitting percentage of .018 – the lowest by any Aggie opponent this season.
- Darian Markham finished with a perfect 1,000 reception percentage for the 12th time of the year.
- Kaleigh Thomas recorded the first kill of her senior season as she made her first appearance during the 2022 campaign.
- Similar to Thomas, Cameron Rodriguez saw her first action as an Aggie as she came on to the floor in the fifth and final set.
- Rylee Fay continued to show why she is one of the top servers in the country as she posted her seventh-straight match with at least one ace by finishing with a pair on Wednesday.
- Molly Johnson recorded her third-consecutive double-double as she finished the night with 11 kills and 10 digs. This also marks the third match in a row in which Johnson has tallied double-digit kills.
- Kaylee Peterson saw her role increase even more after playing in three sets at UTRGV in the Aggies’ last outing. Peterson secured the first ace of her young career while also digging a trio of Cougar attacks to post the first digs of her freshman season.
- Lia Mosher wrapped up the night with a career-best seven digs while also reaching a new career-high in serve attempts (3).
- Ryleigh Whitekettle posted a career-best two solo blocks as she consistently affected CSU attacks all match long.
The Aggies will now take advantage of some much-needed rest as they will be off for seven days following a five-day stretch in which they played three matches, including two that were extended to five sets.
Following the week-long break, NM State will re-enter league play with a road contest against California Baptist on Thursday, Oct. 20th, before colliding with Grand Canyon on Oct. 22