NM State, the conference leader in opponent’s hitting percentage, held Bakersfield to an overall hitting percentage of .198, including a .051 percentage in the first set and a .000 percentage in set number two. The Aggies also had a season-high 15 team blocks, led by middle blocker Sasha-Lee Thomas who finished with eight total blocks.
Junior Bradley Nash picked up her fourth double-double of the season after posting a team-high 10 kills to go along with 11 digs. Her fourth double-dipper ties setter Taylor Livoti for the team lead in the category.
Thomas added nine kills, Nathalie Castellanos another eight and junior Gwen Murphy finished with seven kills and a match-high .583 hitting percentage, the highest hitting percentage this season for NM State.
Livoti led the team with 25 assists while freshman Ashlyn Brown once again finished in double-figures assists after posting 16. Freshman Ariadnne Sierra, who stepped in for senior Hannah Walker at the libero position, had a team-high 14 digs.
Down 18-21, the Aggies marked the final seven points of set number one to take the set 25-21, then ran off to a 22-14 lead in the second set before holding on to a 25-19 set win to take a 2-0 lead and seemingly be on their way to a match win.
But the Roadrunners came back to handily win the third set and then made things interesting for NM State in a very close final set.
The Aggies led throughout the first half of the fourth set and after three-straight points the visiting team held a six-point lead at 17-11 and seemed on their way to a road victory.
But perhaps NM State started thinking about Grand Canyon, its next opponent, before the match was over, because Bakersfield proceeded to go on an 11-1 run, which started with nine-consecutive points, to overtake the Aggies. After the dust had settled NM State found itself trailing 22-18.
With all the momentum on the Roadrunners’ side and the match seemingly slipping away, the Aggies dug deep and used three of their 15 blocks to mark five-straight points and retake the lead at 23-22.
The teams would trade punches from that point on as the set saw ties at 23, 24, 25 and 26. But NM State would have the last laugh after marking the final two points of the set to take the match in four sets and take second place in the conference.
The Aggies now travel to Phoenix, Ariz., to face Grand Canyon on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. (MDT). The match can be heard live over the Las Cruces radio airwaves on KGRT AM 570 with Adam Young on the call. The match will also be streamed live for free over the Internet on the WAC Digital Network. Go to www.wacsports.com and click on the ‘WAC Digital Network’ tab for access.