The New Mexico State volleyball team (20-7, 10-4 WAC) started off their final home stretch of the season strong Saturday afternoon, throttling California Baptist (19-10, 9-7) in four sets (25-16, 11-25, 25-8, 25-20) for what was a redemption game for head coach Mike Jordan and the Aggies.
“The first time we played [California Baptist] this year, we were really bad defensively,” Jordan said. “Today, we just flew to the volleyball a little bit more, kept some balls alive and just did a much better job defending.”
NM State simply outworked the Lancers in the first set, sacrificing their bodies and playing selflessly. Natalie Mikels nearly dove into the first row to keep the ball alive late in the set, keeping what would be an Aggie point alive and kicking off a set-dealing five-point run.
It seemed like a different team took the court in the second set, as nothing seemed to click for the Aggies. They picked up six errors in the set and had only seven kills on a .032 hitting clip. California Baptist was able to seal the set with an 8-1 scoring run, winning 25-11.
The Aggies were able to turn it around in the third in dominant fashion – jumping out to a quick 9-1 lead on their way to set the tone for a 25-8 victory. Tatyana Battle clinched her 17th double-double of her senior campaign in this set as NM State showcased their offense, putting up 14 kills on a .480 hitting clip. California Baptist couldn’t get things going in this set, ending with a -.037 hitting percentage.
The Lancers responded with a strong start of their own in the fourth set, scoring four points straight away, but the Aggies were sure to keep things close, responding with a run every time CBU would make their push. The set was tied at 14-14 before CBU committed three straight attack errors to put the Lancers on the ropes.
The Aggies took advantage of these errors and established a lead that would not be overcome. Davison helped NM State close the set after she put up the final two kills, capping her at a match-high 14 kills.
“Killer instinct is a real thing, and it’s an important thing. It’s competing regardless of score, regardless of how your opponent looks. That’s the interesting part of volleyball,” Jordan said. “You always have to start at 0-0 the next set. We need more killer instinct.”
NM State’s hot-and-cold play causes worry for the post season, said Jordan.
“At this point, I don’t know if [the inconsistency] is going to change. You know, we’re only a couple weeks away from the tournament,” Jordan said. “We want to win every match we play. The expectation is to play well and win, that’s the goal. Winning has got to be super important, and everything you do should prepare yourself for that.”
The Aggies racked up a total 51 kills on a .290 hitting clip. They also recorded 47 assists and 69 digs. Tatyana Battle, Megan Hart and Savannah Davison each recorded double-digit kills in the match. Davison earned a double-double with 14 kills and 12 digs. Battle finished her night with 13 kills and 20 digs. Briana Ainsworth also recorded a double-double with 16 assists and 13 digs.
New Mexico State improves their home record to 8-1 on the season with this win and will now ready for their last two regular season matches against UMKC on Nov. 15 and Chicago State on Nov. 17.
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