LAS CRUCES, NM – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros volleyball team opened Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-22) victory over the three-time defending Western Athletic Conference Champion New Mexico State University Aggies on Thursday at the Pan American Center.
This is the Vaqueros’ (12-4, 1-0 WAC) first-ever sweep of the Aggies (7-5, 0-1 WAC) in a series spanning 25 matches since 2000.
Junior Luisa Silva Dos Santos led the Vaqueros with nine kills, two blocks and two aces. Sophomore Perry Key posted eight kills. Senior Sarah Cruz recorded seven kills, 10 digs and three blocks. Sophomore Margherita Giani posted seven kills on an error-free .538 hitting with three blocks. Junior Ioanna Charitonidi recorded three kills and six digs. Sophomore Luanna Emiliano dished out 31 assists.
Molly Johnson led the Aggies with nine kills, six digs and two blocks.
Down 4-5 in the first set, a kill and an ace by Santos helped the Vaqueros go on a 4-1 run to take an 8-6 lead. The Aggies won the next three serves before kills by Emiliano and Cruz sparked a 6-2 run to put the Vaqueros up 14-11. The Vaqueros extended their lead to 17-13 on an error. Then, up 17-15, the Vaqueros went on a 6-1 run, capped by a Cruz block, to take a 23-16 lead. Three serves later, back-to-back Key kills ended the set.
The Vaqueros scored the first six points of the second set thanks in part to a block by Cruz and Giani and a Key kill. The Vaqueros maintained their lead for the rest of the set. The Aggies pulled within 15-19 before a Santos kill sparked a 3-0 run to put the Vaqueros up 22-15 and push the set out of reach.
The Aggies jumped out to a 4-2 lead in set three. That’s when the Vaqueros went on an 8-2 run, capped by back-to-back Santos kills, to take a 10-6 lead. The Aggies won the next three serves to pull within one, but the Vaqueros responded with a 7-2 run, punctuated by a Giani kill, to go up 17-11. The Vaqueros led by as many as seven at 22-15 before the Aggies went on a 6-1 run to climb within two. Giani responded with a kill to give the Vaqueros match point. One serve later, an error ended the match.
UTRGV visits Tarleton on Saturday at 1 pm on ESPN+.
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