Freshmen Regan Butler and Alli Nieman were put into the University of Idaho’s starting line and the Vandals responded with a 15-11, 15-10, 15-4 win over New Mexico State Thursday at Memorial Gym.
The win snapped Idaho three-match losing streak as it improved to 9-9, 3-2 in the Big West Conference. The Aggies slipped to 8-10, 3-2.
Nieman, a two-sport athlete from Sandpoint, finished with nine kills and a match-high .375 attack percentage. Butler had six digs and a match-high four service aces.
“(Nieman’s) offense is way ahead of the other parts of her game,” Idaho coach Carl Ferreira said. “Regan has proven, as a freshman, she’s one of our best competitors.”
Idaho’s Jessica Moore, playing on a sore ankle she sprained on Monday, slammed a match-high 15 kills. Jeri Hymas had 11 kills and a .368 attack percentage. Anna Reznicek recorded a match-high 41 assists, while getting four digs and four kills.
The Vandals hit .314 while the Aggies had a .102 attack percentage. In the decisive third game, Idaho hit .556, while NMSU hit .000.
Anika Donaldson led NMSU with 10 kills. Darice Smith had eight kills and a .353 attack percentage for the Aggies.
At Cheney, Eastern Washington University suffered its first Big Sky Conference loss of the year, falling to Sacramento State 12-15, 15-9, 15-13, 15-13. The loss also snapped an eight-match winning streak as the Eagles fell to 13-3, 6-1. The Hornets improved to 10-5, 4-2.
Eastern played without veteran setter Kim Maxwell, who sprained her ankle in Wednesday’s practice.
The Eagles led as late as 13-8 in the fourth game before letting it slip away. Eastern’s Lora Botha had a career-high 19 kills on a .350 attack percentage.
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