San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Volleyball defeats New Mexico in both games of series

Courtesy of Derrick Tuskan, SDSU Athletics
San Diego State volleyball sophomore outside hitter Nya Blair celebrates after a play during the Aztecs’ 3-1 loss to Fresno State on Feb. 12 at Peterson Gym.

San Diego State volleyball won both games of its two-game series against New Mexico at Peterson Gym. The Aztecs (3-3) won the first match on Friday by sweeping the Lobos in three sets 25-13, 25-17, 25-21. The following day, SDSU came back and won in four sets 25-20, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19 to get the team its third-straight win.

The series was initially scheduled to be played in New Mexico but was later announced that they were moved to Peterson Gym in San Diego. Head coach Brent Hilliard said the move to home helped the weekend go in the team’s favor.

“Anytime someone tells you you’re moving an away match to a home match, you’re pretty excited,” Hilliard said. “So the fact that we didn’t have to travel probably helped our girls feel more comfortable as well.”

Match 1: Aztecs take all three sets

In the first set, the Aztecs started by trailing the Lobos 7-4. 

However, SDSU jumped ahead with a 12-point run to put them at a 16-7 lead. The run caused New Mexico to use two timeouts, but the Aztecs went ahead to win the set 25-13.

Junior defensive specialist and libero Brooklynn Hill contributed to the 12-point run with three service aces. 

Hilliard said Hill started the momentum for the run.

“I can tell you (the run) started with Brooklynn Hill, who is our (defense specialist) transfer from Penn State,” Hilliard said. “She served extremely tough to start and then anything they were able to get back onto our side, we were very organized. I remember that specifically.”

Freshman outside hitter Heipua Tautua’a had three kills in the run. Tautua’a was joined with contributions by senior opposite hitter Erin Gillcrist with two kills and sophomore outside hitter Nya Blair with one kill.

The second set saw a closer battle, with the score tying five times. 

But the Aztecs were able to take the lead late in the set 17-21. They eventually won the match with four straight points off of errors by New Mexico.

The third set was also close and saw SDSU and New Mexico trading points until 21-23.

The Aztecs won the match with two back-to-back kills by O’Sullivan and Tautua’a, which were both set up by sophomore setter Ashley Vanderpan. Vanderpan played all three sets and recorded 38 assists.

Match 2: SDSU drops one set to New Mexico

The Aztecs had a strong start on Saturday’s game, similar to Friday’s game.

SDSU got a quick lead in the first set and maintained it to win the set 25-20.

The second set was similar to the first, with the Aztecs holding their lead to win it 25-20.

The third set is when the Aztecs were tested.

The Lobos jumped to an early lead, and SDSU was not able to catch up until late in the set by tying it at 19-19. 

New Mexico then took the lead again 22-19. The Aztecs and Lobos traded points, with four out of the next six points being from errors.

The Aztecs were not able to come back from behind, however, and dropped the set 25-23.

The third set also saw some lineup changes for the Aztecs.

Freshman setter Kennedy Feuerborn started the set, then was subbed out several times with Vanderpan.

Hilliard said he has high hopes for the 6-foot-3 freshman, and wanted to give Feuerborn more time on the court.

“I think Ashley is a better defender right now and she’s very good at the three-hitter rotations. But I also feel like Kennedy has the potential, just about any day, to be the best setter that San Diego State will ever have,” Hilliard said. “She’s just so big, and such a great athlete for her size that I still want to continue to give her opportunities to keep getting her feet wet, so-to-speak.”

Feuerborn recorded one kill and seven assists in the set she played. Vanderpan had three kills and 40 assists in the match.

The Aztecs rebounded in the fourth set, where they took the lead and kept it throughout the set.

New Mexico attempted to come back late in the set, stopping SDSU at match point 18-24. New Mexico scored again off an attack error by O’Sullivan.

But O’Sullivan came back with her own kill, winning the set 19-25 and the game for the Aztecs.

O’Sullivan led the team with 20 kills, followed by Blair with 10 kills.

Offensively, SDSU had 57 kills compared to New Mexico’s 34 kills, but the Aztecs had more attack errors (31-19).

Hilliard said that the amount of errors is a continuous problem that the team is still working on.

“I think that a lot of the points New Mexico was able to score against us were basically our own errors,” Hilliard said. “So that’s always going to be a constant with us, we’re fighting it, we’re battling it week to week. And when we play well, we cut down on those attack errors.”

By winning both matches against New Mexico, the Aztecs earn three straight wins, rebounding from three losses to start the season.

Hilliard said the wins will help the team face stronger opponents in the future.

“It’s a tremendous confidence boost. They needed to feel winning,” Hilliard said. “And winning will beget more winning. And I feel with tougher competition as it comes in week to week, we’re going to be fine now. I think if you don’t have those wins under your belt, you’re always going to have doubt.”

About the Contributor
Megan Oytas
Megan Oytas, Staff Writer
Megan Oytas is a second-year student double majoring in journalism and political science from Honolulu, Hawaii. Her hobbies include writing stories, listening to music and reading. She is a fan of baseball and hockey and aspires to be a sports journalist covering the MLB or NHL. Megan started writing for The Daily Aztec in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter @megoytas.
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Volleyball defeats New Mexico in both games of series