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Wanting to change recent history, the Miners won their first match against NM State at home since 2001. The teams battled to five sets before UTEP finished off the Aggies 3-2 (25-22, 14-25, 25-15, 20-25, 11-15).
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” head coach Ken Murphy said. “After a tough third game the team responded defensively and we got back to doing the things we do well which is attack.”
The Miner attack was led by outside hitter Jeane Horton who hammered 19 kills, six blocks (2s/4a) and four digs. Xitlali Herrera also posted a stellar showing recording a double-double with 15 kills and 11 digs and hit a .414 average.
Setter Malia Patterson registered a match-high 56 assists and added eight digs and one block assists.
The Miners posted 61 kills, 59 assists, 56 digs and 11 team blocks as they upset the Aggies.
Aggie Junior Desiree Scott posted a career-high 14 kills in the match and tallied a .550 hitting percentage, while sophomore Meredith Hays tallied a team-high 16 kills to go along with nine digs. Junior Stephanie Ziegler, who was at the libero position tonight, marked a match-high 18 digs, just one short of her career-high.
Junior setter Ciara Brown marked 27 assists on the evening and sophomore setter Maggi Jo Keffury added 23. Juniors Preslie Alexander and Lauren Loerch tallied seven kills each and junior Hannah Walker came up with 11 digs on the evening.
Shaking off the rivalry-game jitters, the Miners were down early in the first stanza as the first points went the way of NM State. Quick kills from Taylor Nix and Horton put the Miners back on track tying the game 4-4.
The set then became a stalemate with six ties throughout the first frame. NM State took a 1-0 lead with a 25-22 win.
Horton launched her assault in the second set with a kill and then two-straight blocks putting the Miners up 7-3. With the crowd behind them, UTEP took control with two kills from Xitlali Herrera and another pair of blocks by Horton the Miners raced ahead to a 17-8 lead that forced a hurried timeout by the Aggies. With the crowd behind them, the Miners continued their attack pulling to a 23-12 advantage as Cassandra Burruel and Jacqueline Cason teamed up for a set of blocks. UTEP tied up the match, 1-1, with commanding control at the net outblocking the Aggies 9-3.
In the third frame, with each team owning a set each, Nix and Burrel gave the team a couple of quality kills while the Aggies had a few of their own by Meredith Hayes and Lauren Loerch. The teams battled for control before the Aggies went on a 7-0 run to take a commanding 17-9 lead. The Battle of I-10 waged on as NM State decided not to let up and registered six-straight kills in the middle of the fourth set to make it 19-7 Aggie lead. The Miners were unable to overcome the eight-point deficit and found themselves down 20-12. Errors kept coming for the Miners as they committed three-consecutive mishaps ending the third set 25-15.
A fourth set would be needed to call the winner of this match and UTEP jumped ahead early 7-0 forcing an anxious Aggie timeout. Several adjustments were made by the Aggie squad shrinking the lead Miner lead 11-9 and forcing a UTEP timeout to regroup. Nix would stamp a strong showing for UTEP and increase the advantage 16-12.
The lead never fell below 3 after that and the Miners defeated their interstate rivals 25-20 in the final set.
Any good rivalry consists of many nail-biters and with the Miners’ back against the wall they responded. It was the chance for the Miners to prove once and for all who would be the best on the court that day.
The Aggies head back home to jump back into WAC play taking on Denver, Saturday, Sept. 29 at 12:00 p.m. (MT) in the Pan American Center. This will be the "Dig Pink Match," which is a part of the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign and Aggie fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of Breast Cancer victims and survivors. For tickets call (575) 646-1420 or go online at www.NMStateSports.com.
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