PHOENIX – Despite 16 victories each of Shaney lip comb and Katie birtcil, the NM State Aggies volleyball program fell in four sets (18-25, 25-13, 21-25, 17-25) against the Sam Houston State Bearkats on Friday night at GCU Arena.
Playing their second game in two nights, the Aggies (15-5, 6-2 WAC) could not take advantage of the momentum of the straight-set strike from Stephen F. Austin last night.
The Bearkats (11-7, 4-2 WAC) used four early Aggies mistakes to score 10 of the first 15 points for an early 10-5 lead.
Feeling the whole move away, the head coach Mike Jordan burned his first time out to try and bring the Aggies back. SHSU was unfazed, however, and scored eight of the next 12 points to take an 18-9 lead in the first set.
Led by the warm hand of Libscomb, the Aggies did a small rally to come close on seven occasions (20-13 / 22-15), but Sam Houston managed to hold on for a 25-18 win in the first. set.
The second set of the game was more typical for NM State, as the Aggies used a strong serve from Carly Aigner Swesey and Marti Sharp to score six of the top seven.
SHSU would rally however, using a pair of aces, to score four of the next five points. The mini-run reduced Aggie’s advantage to just 7-5.
Needing an answer, the Aggies did just that, using a hefty portion of Alana Embry to unleash a 7-0 run. The push was evidenced by three kills of Lia mosher and an Embry ace that gave the Aggies a nine-point advantage (14-5).
The two teams traded the next 12 points, putting NM State closer to within five points (20-11) of the second set.
After a murder of Kelly Cat gave the Aggies a 21-11 lead, NM State scored four of the last six points to head for a 25-13 victory.
In the deciding third set, the Aggies got off to a slow start again, as Sam Houston scored six of the first nine to overtake his opponent (6-3).
Facing another bit of adversity, the Aggies came to life, scoring eight of the next 11 to take an 11-9 lead after 20 points.
As they did all night outside of the second set, the Bearkats responded to the NM State run with an 11-4 push that turned a two-point deficit into a 20-15 advantage. .
The Aggies couldn’t come close to less than three points (24-21) on the last 11 points, as Sam Houston held on for an important 25-21 straight-set win.
Seeking to send the game to a fifth and final top-15 set, the Aggies took the lead 6-4 early in the first 10 points of the fourth.
As in the third set, Sam Houston used a 5-1 clutch run to turn the two-point deficit into a two-point advantage.
After the Aggies scored three of the next four to reduce the set to 10, Sam Houston used three NM state errors to spark a 7-1 run that gave them a sizable 17-11 advantage.
NM State responded with three in a row and five of seven to move closer to 19-16, but a final 6-1 set sealed the fourth and final set that gave the Bearkats (Southwest) a victory over the first. place (West) Aggies.
The setback was the Aggies’ neutral site’s first loss of the season. NM State was previously 7-0 on neutral venues. Despite the loss, the Aggies are still 12-3 in the last 15 games.
HEAD COACH MIKE JORDAN:
“We were out tonight but all credit goes to Sam Houston. We were pretty good offensively but didn’t serve him to a high enough level. And then our block and recoveries were even worse than our serve play. Hopefully we will learn to toughen you up when adversity strikes. “
The Aggies close October on the road in California Baptist (Oct 28) and Seattle (Oct 30). Road competitions will be the Aggies’ last two seasons, with NM State playing their last four home games before hosting the 2021 WAC tournament.
The Aggies dropped a five-set heartbreak to the Lancers on October 2 and swept the Redhawks on September 30 at the Pan American Center. The loss to CBU ended Aggie’s nine-game winning streak and was WAC’s first loss inside Pan Am since October 27, 2018.