Volleyball: UVU falls to NMSU in 5 sets

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LAS CRUCES, N.M.–After a disappointing loss earlier this week to open conference play, the Utah Valley University volleyball team looked to get back on track Saturday afternoon when it took on New Mexico State at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was a hard fought contest, but in the end, UVU (4-11, 0-2) couldn’t keep up as it fell to preseason conference favorite NMSU (11-4, 2-0) in five sets (18-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-15, 16-14).

Utah Valley started hot as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set. New Mexico State battled back and tied things up at 12-12 when they scored on a kill by Tatyana Battle. UVU benefited from an Aggie error that broke the tie and ignited an 8-1 run by the Wolverines. The Aggies were unable to respond as UVU ran away with the first set.

The second set saw the Aggies score the first four points to take an early lead. UVU struggled to keep up as it fell behind by as many as seven when a Wolverine error gave NMSU a 15-8 lead. The Wolverines regrouped and pulled to within one when a Kiahna Vernon kill made it 24-23, but they would get no closer as the Aggies scored on the next play to secure the set.

The Wolverines bounced back in the third set, as they led by as many as six before the Aggies mounted a comeback. With the score tied at 22, Lexi Thompson came through for Utah Valley with a kill to regain the lead for the Wolverines. A few moments later Thompson recorded another kill to put away the third set.

New Mexico State started the scoring in the fourth set with a kill from Jordan Abalos. The Wolverines fell behind early and were unable to rally, trailing by as many as 10 as the Aggies won the fourth set handily.

The fifth set began with the teams trading points early. With her team down 3-2, UVU’s Thompson recorded yet another kill that sparked a 5-0 scoring run for the Wolverines. NMSU slowly chipped away at the UVU lead and tied the score when a kill from Tatyana Battle made the score 13-13. UVU eventually lost the final set on an attack error by Marija Martinovic.

Lexi Thompson led the way for UVU with 18 kills and four blocks. On the other side, Jordan Abalos was a standout for the Aggies, recording a match-high 22 kills.

The Wolverines return home next week for their conference home opener against Chicago State Thursday, Sept. 29, at the UCCU Center.