The Roadrunners improved to a 19-8 overall record and moved into a three-way tie for second place in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) with their victory over the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday, Nov. 10 in the Convocation Center.
Before the match started, UTSA honored the three seniors on this year’s team: outside hitters Allie Bettinger and Whitney Walls, and middle hitter Brittney Malloy. Head Coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff embraced each senior player during the Senior Day ceremony in respect for everything they have done for this program.
“They aren’t vocal leaders but they understand the demands of our system and they hold every player accountable,” Groff said. “It’s very valuable because I’m such a disciplinarian and discipline is what wins.”
“Whitney, Allie and I have worked really hard and I’m really proud of us,” Malloy said.
The ‘Runners offense looked out of rhythm in the first set of the match as the Aggies jumped to a quick 10-2 lead. The ‘Runners couldn’t overcome the early Aggies lead and dropped the first set 25-16. Junior middle hitter Desiree Schott led the Aggies attack with four kills in the first set.
After their disappointing performance in the first set, the ‘Runners refocused their attitudes and showed a more competitive side. The ‘Runners held eight-point lead, 20-12 but New Mexico State’s offense began to find its momentum. Late in the second set, the Aggies went on a 7-0 run that cut the Runners lead to three points, 22-19. Then four-time WAC player of the Week, UTSA’s McKenzie Adams, smashed an uncontested kill shot, and the Runners tied the match at one set each.
UTSA total kill shots jumped from only nine in the first set to 25 kills in the second set. Adams led the rejuvenated Runners attack with seven kills in the set, and 11 total kills at end of the set.
The match’s intensity only increased in the next game. The ‘Runners momentum carried over into the third game and claimed another win 25-22. Players from both teams dived all over the court, fiercely fighting for every point. UTSA’s attack was powered by Adams’ five kills in the set, and the ‘Runners defense began to dominate as well. Freshman libero Annie Kunes had six digs in the third frame, which brought her total to 16 for the match so far.
In the nail-biting, intense fourth set, Adams continued to terrorize the Aggies defense with her incredibly accurate kill shots and carried UTSA to 4-1 lead. The Aggies stayed relentless in their attack and rallied back to tie the score six different times in the fourth set. The Aggies started to falter with execution and that allowed UTSA’s lead to grow into a three-points, 22-18. The Aggies desperately tried to salvage a win but senior Whitney Walls blasted an uncontested kill shot and finalized a 25-20 UTSA in the fourth set.
UTSA now moves into a three-way tie at second place with Idaho and New Mexico State as all three teams have identical 12-5 conference records. Utah State still remains in first place at 14-3.
Adams recorded her 18th double-double of the season with a team high 23 kills and 18 digs, and joining her is junior Brandy Husky with her 16th double-double this season with 47 assists and 13 blocks. UTSA will close out their regular season when they go on the road to face San Jose State on Thursday, Nov. 15. The ‘Runners will return back to the Convocation Center on Nov. 19 when UTSA will be the host school for the 2012 WAC Tournament.