NM State Battles Utah Valley in 2021 WAC Opener

Match thirteen
State from NM (9-3, 0-0 WAC) to Utah Valley (5-6, 0-0 WAC)
Thursday September 23 | 6:00 p.m. | Lockhart Arena | Orem, Utah
Watch | Live Statistics | Tickets | NM Status Match Notes

FIRST SERVED
• Hoping to win their 10th Western Athletic Conference opening game since 2010, the NM State volleyball team heads to Orem, Utah, for a Thursday night showdown with Utah Valley inside Lockhart Arena. The first service is set at 7:00 p.m.
• The revenge of the 2021 WAC tournament title fight will be streamed live on ESPN + and the ESPN app.

WAC ATTACK
• A new look for the Western Athletic Conference debuts in the 2021-22 season, and the Aggies hope to continue to dominate the league.
• Now in his 24th season in charge at NM State, head coach Mike Jordan has been nothing short of masterful in the league’s action throughout his tenure. The Aggies bench boss has an impressive 280-65 (.811) mark in WAC regular season showdowns as well as a 30-12 (.714) record in WAC tournament fights.
• NM State has been particularly good at amassing all manner of WAC material over the past seven seasons. During that span, the Aggies are 82-8 (0.911) against league opposition in the regular season and have won five WAC regular season crowns as well as a trio of WAC tournament titles.
• Since joining the WAC in 2005, NM State has won seven regular season titles. In total, Jordan has won 11 conference titles since starting his run at Las Cruces in 1998.

ALL TOGETHER
• After suffering a loss in the fifth and final set to longtime Texas rivals UTEP on Sunday, September 5, NM State has not lost a set since.
• The Aggies lead a six-game winning streak that ranks as the WAC’s longest active run as well as the 17th longest streak among all NCAA Division I volleyball teams.
• Thanks to their six-game winning streak, the Aggies have not lost a set. The 18 straight sets won by NM State represent the second longest active streak of sets won by an NCAA Division I team. Maryland’s 23-set winning streak is the only streak longer than the Aggies’ current 18-set unbeaten streak.

AROUND ROTATION
• Often referred to as the pride of Ruidoso, NM, Lia mosher has made a name for herself as one of the best forwards in the country in 2021. The middle blocker leads the WAC and ranks seventh nationally with her winning percentage of .458. In addition to his effective numbers in attack, Mosher leads the team with 31 rejections (0.70 per set).
• Mosher has hit below 0.360 in just one of the Aggies’ 12 games this season and has hit 0.400 or better in three of his last five.
• At the apex of the Aggies’ balanced offense is Lipscomb. The right side leads NM State with 2.98 eliminations per set on an effective hit percentage of 0.338. While the Aggies don’t own any players with an average of 3.00 or higher, a trio of NM State players average at or near 2.5 endings per frame. In addition to Lipscomb, Birtcil (2.52 kills per set, 0.301 hit percentage) and Barrett (2.43 kills per set) are among the Aggies’ top three players in this category.
Carly Aigner Swesey and first year student Alana Embry handled the Aggies’ tuning tasks this year. The latter leads the team with 6.11 assists per set while Embry’s 4.47 assists per frame come in second.
• In the discolored jersey, Darian Markham’s 4.39 searches per set places her among the top 100 NCAA Division I players in that category. His average is the 96th best in the country as well as the fourth among all WAC players.
• After fighting an injury that severely limited its effectiveness, Kelly Cat returned to form in 2021. The product from Albuquerque, New Mexico, helped give the Aggies depth in both attack and ground defense. Kelly has collected 10 or more digs in her last two outings and has had 10 or more kills in two of the 11 games she has played this year.
• The Aggies lead the WAC in both hit percentage (0.252) and opponent’s free kick percentage (0.146). Domestically, NM State’s opponent’s hitting percentage is the 28th best in the country, while the Aggies’ hitting percentage is ranked 52nd.

LAST TIME
Shaney lip comb shot 15 kills, Katie birtcil hammered 11 more and the Aggies extended their winning streak to six games with a 3-0 victory over Stetson last Saturday morning.
• In the last game of the NM State Stetson Invitational, his offense worked with an offensive clip of .350 while limiting the Hatters to a number of .192.
• The service line was also a boon for the Aggies, as they knocked Stetson off balance with a seven ace assault from there. Victoria barrett added to his team-leading ace total by serving up to four. In his three games at the Stetson Invitational, Barrett shot 10 aces – good for an average of 1.11 per set on the three game swing.
• Lipscomb and Birtcil both earned spots on the Stetson Invitational All-Star Team for their performances during the Aggies’ three-game streak.

STORY OF THE SERIES
Overall against Utah Valley | 14-5 (0.737)
in Las Cruces, New Mexico | 7-0 (1000)
In Orem, Utah | 5-5 (.500)
On neutral sites | 2-0 (1000)
Series | Utah Valley won one
Last five games | 3-2 (.600)
Last 10 matches | 6-4 (.600)
In matches in three sets | 6-2 (.750)
In matches in four sets | 5-0 (1000)
In matches in five sets | 3-3 (.500)
Jordan vs Utah Valley | 14-5 (0.737)
Atoa v State NM | 5-14 (.263)
Last meeting | at Utah Valley 3, NM State 0 (April 3, 2021)
• Since the Aggies-Wolverines meet in 2013, NM State has a historic 14-5 (0.737) record against enemies Orem.
• NM State is 7-3 (0.700) all-time against Utah Valley when playing in Orem, Utah, but the Wolverines have won two of the last three games between the two programs at this venue.

UTAH VALLEY SCOUTING | LIST | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS
• The team that swept NM State in the 2021 WAC tournament title fight, Utah Valley is hoping for back-to-back wins over the Aggies for the first time in their history when both teams hit the field inside. Lockhart Arena.
• A defensive mindset – especially when it comes to the front row – is what the Wolverines have. Utah Valley leads the WAC and ranks 22nd nationally with 112.0 blocks overall. The team’s 2.49 blocks per set represents another prominent figure in the WAC and is also the 44th highest score among all NCAA Division I volleyball teams.
• A big part of why those blocking numbers are so garish has to do with Sadie Hamson and Kendra Nock playing. At 6-4 and 6-1 respectively, Hamson and Nock are helping the Wolverines limit their opponents to a team attack percentage of 0.202 this year. Nock sits second in the WAC in blocks per set (1.06) while Hamson sits fourth (1.03) among all players in the league.
• WAC Player of the Year and Honorable Mention AVCA All-American are just a few of the accolades won by Kazna Tanuva who returns for another season at Orem. The Wolverines’ favorite attacking option, Tanuva leads the team and ranks fifth in the WAC with 3.61 endings per frame.
• In the serve / receive game, assists Abbie Miller and Natalie Palmer were the two biggest threats to generate aces for Utah Valley. Palmer’s 14 service winners lead the team while Miller is not far behind with 13.
• Utah Valley is currently in the middle of its longest final stretch of the 2021 season. The Wolverines’ battle with the Aggies will be the fourth in a five-game home streak.
• Showing no fear in the non-conference portion of their schedule, the Wolverines showed intelligence with a top 15 trio ahead of the start of WAC action. Utah Valley has faced No.10 Utah twice and No.15 BYU more recently (Saturday, September 18).

TO BE CONTINUED
• NM State will complete their two-game road swing on the opening weekend of the WAC game while staying in the State of Utah. The Aggies head to St. George, Utah, where they face Dixie State at noon on Saturday.

++ State NM ++

About Joyce Hill

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