The NM State defense came up big again, holding the ‘Lopes to a negative hitting percentage during all three sets. Grand Canyon finished with a -.082 hitting percentage to the Aggies’ .240.
Junior Gwen Murphy, coming off an MVP performance at the Holly Young Invitational, finished with a match-high nine kills. Fellow junior Nathalie Castellanos was right behind with seven kills while also adding 17 assists. Middle hitter Sasha-Lee Thomas added five kills, five total blocks and a match-high .625 hitting percentage.
Junior setter Taylor Livoti and redshirt senior libero Hannah Walker were once again perched were they have been all season, Livoti leading the team with 20 assists and Walker leading the team with 10 digs.
The teams traded three-point rallies to begin the match. It was close throughout early with ties at three, four and five. Another three-point rally by the Aggies, however, gave the home team a 10-6 lead.
After another run, this time four-straight points, NM State’s lead had opened up to five at 15-10 midway through the set. The ‘Lopes would get to within one at 20-19, but the Aggies would mark five of the last six points to win the set going away 25-20.
Castellanos led the Aggies in set one with four kills. NM State outhit Grand Canyon .242 to -.053.
The second set would prove much easier for NM State. The Aggies would win nine of the first 11 points to take command early. Leading 11-5, the home team would go on a match-high seven-point run that would mark the beginning of 12-2 stretch that gave NM State an insurmountable 23-7 lead.
The Aggies would win set two handily, 25-10. Murphy and redshirt senior Shelbi Goode each had three kills in the set. For the second-straight set NM State held the ‘Lopes to a negative hitting percentage, this time outhitting Grand Canyon .250 to -.133.
As in the second set, the Aggies once again had a big rally in the third set to distance themselves from the ‘Lopes. This time it was a six-point rally that gave NM State a 13-5 lead. The Aggies were content to trade punches with Grand Canyon during the second half of the set and won going away 25-17, again holding the ‘Lopes to a negative hitting percentage.
NM State continues WAC play on Saturday, Sept. 27, when it welcomes Bakersfield to Las Cruces. Game time on Saturday is set for 1 p.m. (MDT). The match can be heard live over local radio on KGRT AM 570 with Adam Young on the call.