NM State ends perfect weekend with four-set win over Davidson

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The score of the box DAVIDSON, North Carolina – As both teams entered the competition with perfect records on the weekend, the Aggies (5-1, 0-0 WAC) flexed their muscles and knocked out host Davidson (4-2, 0-0 A-10) on the last day of the Wildcat Classic.

“It was our best game of the year,” said the head coach mike jordan declared. “We attacked it well and passed it decently. Our block took too long to get going but once it did it helped. It’s a good team of skilled Davidson veterans who already have a Power Five win. Beating them at home wasn’t going to be easy. I’m proud of the effort today.


The match was hotly contested as the Aggies trailed the Wildcats by just four points, even after taking a two-set lead. The Aggies’ passer and frontline play proved to be the difference as NM State passed Davidson in kills (67-59) and assists (63-55) in the game.


Individually, the Aggies were led by a team-record 15 eliminations from Ryleigh Whitekettle while Katie Birtcil and Molly Johnson each contributed 13 deaths themselves. Johnson was also a defensive force as she paced the Aggies with four blocks.


Just a day after posting a career-best 25 assists, Fay continued her hot weekend by finishing the game with 33 assists. Meanwhile, Darian Markham served as the base for the Aggies’ back row – finishing with 25 digs.



SET A
Michigan State Transfer Molly Johnson was immediately physically imposing as she recorded wins on each of the Aggies’ first three points to give her team a 3-2 lead.


Some first victims of Aggie’s veteran Lia Mosher gave NM State an 11-9 advantage before back-to-back dismissals at the hands of Birtcil put the Aggies ahead 14-12.


After allowing a Wildcat point, the Aggies claimed four of the next five points to take a four-point lead (18-14). However, Davidson was able to quickly erase that deficit with a 4-0 run.


In the first inning, the Aggies won five of the last seven runs as Mosher and Birtcil had two kills to give the Aggies a 25-23 victory.


In addition, Mia Peterson earned a spot in the starting lineup and joined Birtcil, Johnson and Mosher as one of four Aggies to register at least three kills in the opening set.



SET TWO
Just as the first set ended, the second set was almost entirely a back-and-forth affair as neither unit could claim more than a two-point advantage over the first 42 points combined.


A pair of wins from Birtcil amid a 4-2 run from Aggie early in the set turned a two-point deficit into a 6-4 lead.


The host Wildcats were then able to put together a 5-1 run to regain a 9-7 lead before a combo block from Snow and Johnson capped a streak in which the Aggies scored three unanswered runs.


Later, the two teams tied at 19 points until Johnson, Birtcil and Mosher picked up a kill each and Fay landed a service ace to give NM State a 23-20 lead.


Just as it looked like the Aggies were in control, Davidson powered a three-point run to retie the second set at 23.


The next two points would then lock in the 25-23 set victory for the Aggies as Whitekettle recorded a kill just before an ace from Birtcil ended the set.



SET THREE
After two very tight opening sets, both teams knew they would have to hold their ground in a crucial third set.


After an early set that fell short of Coach Jordan’s expectations, the Aggies erased a 3-0 deficit to take their first inning when Mosher laid off a kill that put the Aggies ahead 7 -6.


The next seven points would include runs from the Aggies and Wildcats. Davidson chained four straight points to take a 10-7 lead before NM State went on a three-point run that was highlighted by a solo block from Peterson to tie the score.


After Davidson was able to take a three-point lead, the Aggies won seven of the next nine points to take a 19-17 lead. During the run, Birtcil recorded a pair of kills while Mosher added a solo kill and block.


Eventually, Davidson would claim a 24-22 lead just before the Aggies put up three straight points to lead 25-24 following a Wildcat net violation.


However, Davidson scored five of the final seven points to claim a 29-27 win.



SET FOUR
With two set wins still in hand, the Aggies entered the fourth set knowing they were still in control. However, after how close the first three sets were, the Aggies also knew the match could go either way if they let it come to a fifth set.


Once again, every point was a battle as the two programs split the first 16 points to remain deadlocked at eight in the first part of the set.


After allowing a Wildcat kill, NM State scored the next nine points to take a 17-9 lead. The push included three kills by outside hitter Whitekettle and a pair of blocks credited to Mosher.


From there, the Wildcats would come no closer to five points while back-to-back wins for Whitekettle and Birtcil ultimately gave the Aggies a 25-19 victory to remain undefeated on the weekend.



NOTABLE MATCHES

  • Darian Markham extended her game streak with 10 or more digs to 20 games as she finished with a season-high 25 digs.
  • Rylee Fay recorded a new career-high 33 assists to surpass her previous mark of 20 from last season while playing with Missouri State.
  • Friend smuggler, Bianca Perez also posted a new career high for assists – finishing with 25 on the day.
  • Molly Johnson posted a season-best mark of four blocks while scoring his third double-digit effort of the season.
  • Lia Mosher finished with a season-high 12 kills in conjunction with an impressive .550 hit percentage.
  • Katie Birtcil hit double-digit territory for the second time this weekend as she had 13 kills against the Wildcats.
  • Ryleigh Whitekettle notched a career-high 15 kills while managing a stellar .464 hitting percentage.
  • As a team, the Aggies recorded 63 total assists, more than the Aggies recorded in all but one game last season (66 vs. California Baptist, 10/2/21)
  • Additionally, the Aggies tied their season-record win total for a four-set match during the 2021 fall season with 67 today.
  • By hitting a combined .336, the Aggies posted their best single-game offensive efficiency numbers this season.
  • Over the weekend, a trio of Aggies earned Team of All-Tournament Wildcat Classic honors. Markham was named the Classic’s MVP as she compiled 49 digs and averaged 4.45 digs per set while maintaining a .932 receiving percentage through 11 sets.
  • Mosher also earned all-tournament laurels after recording 2.27 kills per set while hitting at a .615 clip and making 1.27 blocks per set.
  • Johnson was the last Aggie to be named to the All-Tournament Team as she finished the weekend averaging 2.55 kills per set on .344 hits while adding 0.82 blocks per set.

NEXT

The Aggies will now return home for their first regular season contests at the Pan Am Center this season as they host UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s meeting between the Aggies and Gauchos kicks off at 5 p.m. while Saturday’s tilt is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

Fans wishing to attend the match can purchase tickets here. Meanwhile, fans unable to make it to Las Cruces can watch both games on WACSInternational.tv. Although the league’s streaming service is free for all fans, those wishing to watch must create a free account. Finally, fans can also follow via live stats here.

For complete coverage of NM State volleyball, follow us on Twitter (@NMStateVBall), Instagram (@NMStateVBall) and like us on Facebook (NM State Volleyball). You can also follow Aggie volleyball through NMStateSports.com.

 

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