By: Joseph Fullbright
NM State def. Central Connecticut State 3-0
After a very tough home stand that pitted them against three very solid opponents, the Aggies had to travel 2,334 miles this past weekend to Providence, Rhode Island for the Brown Invitational Tournament. NMSU won its opening match on Friday vs. Central Connecticut State in straight sets [25-20, 25-21, 25-21].
Jordan Abalos led the way with a career-high 22 kills. She also recorded her eighth double-double of the season with an addition of 13 digs in the match. Kassandra Tohm also added nine kills of her own. The three sets were all very contested as the Aggies used late pushes in each to secure the victories.
NM State def. Binghamton 3-1
In what would prove to me the toughest of the three matches over the weekend, NMSU defeated Binghamton 3-1 [23-25, 27-25, 26-24, 25-21] on Saturday morning.
“We got pushed today,” said head coach Mike Jordan. “They were pretty good at exposing some of our weaknesses, and it took us too long to adjust.”
The Aggies saw their big 11-2 lead evaporate quickly as Binghampton stormed back to tie the set at 20 before eventually winning their lone one of the match. The Bearcats were one point away from taking set two as they held a 24-22 lead before the Aggies rallied and ended up winning 27-25. The set itself featured 16 ties.
The third set was just like the first two-very tight and competitive. “We played well at the end of sets and managed to score points, which is a big point of emphasis for us,” said Jordan. The fourth was an easier one as the Aggies ‘cruised’- compared to the other sets, winning 25-21 for the match win. Jordan Abalos continued her stellar play with 21 kills and 17 digs. Tatyana Battle joined her in double figure kills with 14.
NM State def. Brown 3-0
In the final match of the weekend, the Aggies swept host Brown 3-0 [25-15, 25-15, 25-9]. Thanks to an undefeated weekend, they were named the Brown Invitational Champions. Brown did not put up as strong of a fight as Binghamton and that allowed NMSU to coast to a victory.
“[We] gave ourselves some easy chances and converted. I liked our floor defense,” Jordan added. “Most of all, I liked how efficient we were. It was definitely our best match of the weekend.”
Jordan Abalos capped off a stellar weekend with 13 kills in the match en route to being named Tournament MVP. She finished with a total of 55 kills, 38 digs, and two blocks. Brianna Ainsworth was also selected to the All-Tournament team finishing with 72 assists and 26 digs. The Aggies improved to 9-4 on the season as they are now beginning conference play.
Abalos Named WAC Player of the Week
Thanks to an outstanding week at the Brown Invitational, junior outside hitter Jordan Abalos was named the WAC Player of the Week for the week of September 12 – September 18. It was the first time she has received the award in her career. This past weekend at the Brown Invitational tournament, Abalos totaled 56 kills (5.6 per set), 38 digs (3.8 per set), and hit an outstanding .431 hitting percentage. Abalos recorded a career-high 22 kills with 13 digs in the first match vs. Central Connecticut.
In a very competitive second match vs. Binghamton, she put up 20 kills with 17 digs- good for her ninth double-double of the year. To close out the weekend, she managed 13 kills against host Brown. Named a preseason First Team All-WAC selection, Abalos is seriously making a case for WAC Player of the Year: something to keep an eye on.