Utah State Volleyball defeats New Mexico in the opening round of the MW Tournament

FORT COLLINS, Colorado- No. 4 Utah State Volleyball (20-10, 11-7 MW) won its first conference tournament game in ten years after beating No. 5 New Mexico (17-12, 8-10 MW) in the opening round of Mountain West Championships on Wednesday afternoon.

The win marked USU’s first conference tournament win since Utah State defeated UT Arlington 3-1 in the WAC Quarterfinals on November 19, 2012.

A trio of Aggie attackers hit over .400 in the match as senior outside hitters Shelby Caplonch had a match high of 18 kills and hit .424. Junior outside hitter Tatum stable had 11 kills and hit .409 while he was a senior middle blocker Kennedy Boyd hit .545 with seven kills.

Setter in the second year Beatrice Rodrigues had a match-high of 22 assists followed by freshman setter Leah Wilton-LaBoy with 20. Five Aggies served an ace in the match, led by Capllonch with three.

Defensive, redshirt libero sophomore Jordy Holdaway led with 12 digs while Boyd and graduated middle blocker Myrtle Maring led the squad with two blocks each.

New Mexico took an early four-point lead in the first set but a 4-0 run at Utah State highlighted by kills from Boyd, Capllonch and a senior opposing hitter Kylee Stokes, tied it at 6 pieces. The Lobos regained the lead until a 3-0 sprint from USU tied them with 13 players. UNM regained their lead once again, maintaining the lead for a 22-19 advantage.

But the set wasn’t over yet.

The Aggies finished the first set with a 6-0 run. Capllonch started the run with a kill and followed with a service ace. After a Lobo attacking error, a kill from Stall gave USU the first 23-22 lead of the set. Capllonch ended the game with consecutive aces for the 25-22 win.

After some quick back and forth to open the second set, a 5-0 run at Utah State gave USU an 8-3 advantage. The back-and-forth then resumed before a 7-2 run by Aggie capped by a Capllonch hammer gave Utah State a 17-9 advantage. The Aggies later took a 21-11 lead after Stokes killed, blocked Stokes and Maring, UNM attacking errors and a junior defensive specialist service ace Abby Peterson. The Lobos countered with a 4-1 run but killed opposite in the second half Adna Mehmedovic and stall, along with an attacking error from New Mexico, gave the Aggies the 25-15 win.

Utah State broke the third set with a 4-0 lead after back-to-back kills from Mehmedovic and Stall followed by back-to-back Mehmedovic and Maring blocks. The teams traded points until a pair of stall kills and a holdaway ace gave USU a 16-8 advantage. After the Lobos cut the lead to six, a 5-0 dash from Aggie with a Peterson ace and kills from Stokes and Capllonch extended the lead to 23-12. A capllonch kill gave USU the match point before another hammer from the senior sealed the 25-16 win and match sweep.

Overall, USU scored 0.293 (46-17-of-99) while UNM scored 0.132 (28-14-106).

Utah State meets top-ranked UNLV (26-3, 17-1 MW) on Thursday, November 24 at 1:00 p.m. in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Fans can follow the Aggie Volleyball program on Twitter @USUVolleyball, on Facebook at /USUVolleyball, or on Instagram @usuvolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter @USUAthletics, Facebook at /USUAthletics and Instagram @USUAthletics.