SAN ANTONIO — UTSA will return to action on Thursday night when it kicks off its season-long four-match road trip at 8 p.m. at New Mexico State. The Roadrunners also will travel to Denver for a 2 p.m. tilt on Saturday before playing at Utah State at 8 p.m. two days later (all times Central).
UTSA (12-5, 5-2 WAC) will meet the Aggies (12-5, 6-1 WAC) in a league contest that will air on ESPN3.
The Roadrunners are coming off a perfect week of action that saw them record a pair of sweeps against Louisiana Tech and UT Arlington. Senior outside hitter Whitney Walls guided the Birds with a .395 hitting percentage on the strength of 3.5 kills per set.
UTSA posted an 18-point win (25-7) in the second set against UT Arlington, which set a program record for the largest margin of victory in the rally scoring era (since 2008).
Junior outside hitter McKenzie Adams continues to lead the Birds in points (4.6) and kills (4.1) per frame. Meanwhile, freshman middle hitter Kylie Schott (.364), senior middle hitter Brittney Malloy (.317) and Walls (.260) rank third, sixth and 10th, respectively, in the conference in hitting percentage.
UTSA's defense ranks third in the nation with 18.7 digs per frame and lead the league in opponent hitting percentage (.154). Freshman defensive specialist Annie Kunes anchors the Roadrunners defense with a WAC-leading 4.9 digs per set, while Adams sits fourth with 3.8 stops per panel. Schott and Malloy rank sixth and seventh in the league in blocks per set with 1.1 and 1.0, respectively.
New Mexico State has split its last four matches, including a four-set victory at San Jose State last Saturday. The Aggies' lone loss in conference play came in a sweep at Utah State last Thursday. New Mexico State ranks among the top three in the WAC five categories, including hitting percentage (.228/2nd), service aces (1.3/2nd) and kills (13.2/3rd). Preseason WAC Player of the Year Meredith Hays stands second in points (4.6) and third in kills (4.1) per panel.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers (8-9, 2-5 WAC) have dropped their last four contests, including a five-setter at league-leading Utah State last Saturday. Denver's two conference victories were sweeps against UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech. Faimie Kingsley leads the league in hitting percentage (.369) and blocks (1.67) per set, while Frances Carroll sits in fifth with 0.3 service aces per frame.
Utah State (12-6, 7-1 WAC) has won four of its last five outings, but dropped a five-set decision against Utah Valley on Tuesday night. The Aggies lead the conference with 2.99 blocks per set, while Elle Brainard (1.47) and reigning WAC Player of the Week Kaitlyn Van Hoff (1.33) sit second and third in the league rankings.
UTSA and New Mexico State will be meeting for the fourth time on Thursday. The Aggies hold a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to the 1992 campaign. The two teams have not met since Sept. 8, 1995, when New Mexico State posted a five-set victory in Las Cruces, N.M.
Saturday marks the third meeting with Denver. UTSA has won the two previous contests, including a four-set triumph on Sept. 9 of last season in the Mile High City.
Monday night will be the fourth time that Utah State and UTSA have matched up. The Aggies have won all three of the prior meetings, including a four-set victory on Sept. 13 in San Antonio.