Although No. 25 Angelo State University won in straight sets, the Western New Mexico University volleyball team made it anything but easy. Angelo State fought off a set point in the second set and then held off the Lady Mustangs for the 3-0 (18-25, 25-27, 17-25) Lone Star Conference victory Saturday afternoon.
With results from the final day of the regular season, WNMU ends up tying with Eastern New Mexico for seventh. Based on tiebreakers, WNMU ends up as the seventh seed and will play the second seed Texas A&M-Commerce in the first round of the Lone Star Conference Tournament. Tarleton State is the top seed and host and will face eighth seed Eastern New Mexico. In the other two matchups, three seed Angelo State against sixth seed Texas Woman’s and fourth seed Texas A&M-Kingsville versus fifth seed West Texas A&M.
The WNMU (9-19, 9-11 LSC) offense recorded 36 kills and hit .170, but Angelo State (21-8, 13-7 LSC) had an answer countering with a .348 percentage with 58 kills.
The Belles jumped out to the early 5-2 lead in the first set. Seniors Kalie Lyle, Heather Verrill and Alanna Watt all collected kills to help keep the Lady Mustangs to within four, with the last occurrence coming at 12-8. Despite keeping things close, Angelo State kept the pressure coming as they answered with a 3-0 run and would lead by at least five the rest of the way before tallying the 25-18 first set win.
Verrill spun in a pair of service aces in the second set to give WNMU the lead at 5-4. Ahead 11-10, WNMU reeled off the next three points with Watt and Lyle collecting points. The lead reached five at 17-12 on a solo block by Watt to force a Belles timeout. Sophomore Cristal Carrizoza kept WNMU in control with a kill at 22-18 before Angelo State came back with a 4-0 run to even the set at 22 leading to a Lady Mustang timeout. Watt came out of the break with a kill and then Angelo State moved to set point at 24-23. Watt and Lyle answered with back-to-back kills to move to set point at 25-24. Just when it looked like the Lady Mustangs were in position to grab the set, Angelo State came back with a 3-0 run to steal the set at 27-25 and move out to a 2-0 match lead.
Angelo State rode the momentum from a big comeback win in the second set to take a 7-3 lead in the third set. WNMU fought back to within two on a pair of Belle errors, but Angelo State used a mini run to get back up six at 14-8. The Lady Mustangs got back to within four on a couple of occasions, first at 18-14 on a kill by senior Kelli McGhiey and then at 20-16 on another kill by McGhiey. Angelo State then reeled off the final four points with the score at 21-17 to take the third set at 25-17 and the match at 3-0.
Angelo State held the edge on blocks (5-4), assists (54-33) and digs (80-62). WNMU had the advantage on service aces (6-3).
Watt paced the offense with 12 kills, while Lyle added eight. Carrizoza dished out 24 assists, while on defense senior Ashley Mataele had 17 digs, Watt tallied 15 and Carrizoza with 11. Verrill added two blocks.
Brianna Sotello ripped off 19 kills and hit .419 to lead Angelo State. Morgan Seaton added 12. Meghan Parker had 51 assists, while on defense Bailey Mulder had 26 digs and both Seaton and Jenna Markey had three blocks.
WNMU will now prepare for the Lone Star Conference Tournament this coming Thursday when they will face No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Commerce at 2:30 p.m. Central Time. The two teams split the regular season series with both winning on their home floors and in four sets.