Pack spikers fall to New Mexico State | NevadaAppeal.com

Pack spikers fall to New Mexico State

THOMAS RANSON
Appeal News Service

RENO – There’s a reason why New Mexico State should challenge Hawaii for the Western Athletic Conference volleyball crown.

Having played two of the top 10 teams in country on the road, the Aggies used a combination of attacks and defense to muscle out a three-game sweep – 30-25, 30-21 and 30-27 – against the University of Nevada Saturday afternoon before 297 fans at the Virginia Street Gym.

“We are relying offensively on two players, and that’s not acceptable to beat a team that good,” Nevada coach Devin Scruggs said. “We didn’t have enough attack. We didn’t dig a ball. They have to want it more.”

Nevada drops to 1-1 in the WAC, 4-5 overall, and will be on the road for three weeks. NMSU, which lost to No. 6 Texas and No. 1 Nebraska in straight sets earlier this month, improves to 2-0 in the WAC, 10-2 overall.

“They’re just a lot more physical than we are. We’re not quite there yet,” Scruggs said. “You can’t win with just one hitter hitting above. 250.”

Karly Sipherd and Teal Ericson provided a bulk of the offense with Sipherd leading the team in kills with 14 (.429). Ericson blasted 11 kills (.200), and Kylie Harrington had seven (.050).

“We need to be more consistent with each other,” Sipherd said. “We need to have that same game. They weren’t doing anything we didn’t expect.”

Ashley Miller and Sonnie Sei shared setter responsibilities as Sei dished out 21 assists and Miller added 15. Sei came in the second game before Miller returned toward the end of the third game.

Scruggs said setters needed to be rotated to help the struggling offense.

“When one hitter struggles, you switch the hitter. When four hitters struggle, you switch the setter,” Scruggs said.

With a high-profile and WAC rival playing in Reno, Miller said the team was energetic before the game. Nevada split with NMSU last year as the Aggies finished second in the WAC Tournament and earned a bid for the NCAA Tournament.

“We were pretty pumped up,” she said. “We were so pumped up beating New Mexico State. We could have been more confident during the match.”

In fact, Nevada led most of the first game before NMSU battled back for a 5-0 run to lead 25-20. The Wolf Pack came within three points, but service and attack errors gave the Aggies the win.

“The good thing about conference play is we get another shot,” Sipherd said. “They’re beatable. We could have beat them in three. It’s the attack errors and digging.”

Lindsey Yon and Krista Altermatt powered the Aggies to a balanced offensive attack where the team totaled 53 kills for a .312 average. Yon posted a match-high 18 kills (.316), and Altermatt led the team in average at .370 with16 kills.

Altermatt recorded a double-double with 13 digs, and Alyssa Gintant led in assists with 24 and Brynja Rodgers added 19.

Nevada, though, seemed like it figured out NMSU’s attack after blocking Yon several times late in the third game.

Sipherd recorded one of her block assists to close the gap to 25-24. Sipherd’s block capped off a 3-0 run which she started with Miller and their block of Yon.

“We got it,” Sipherd said about blocking NMSU’s key hitters. “We played catch up. We got stuck, and they got there (to 30 points) before we did.”

Ericson posted two kills, and Jorgan Staker and Lindsey Baldwin blocked Altermatt, cutting the deficit to 28-27. Amber Simpson nailed a kill, and Ericson was blocked to end the match.