PORTALES, N.M – Jasmine Gannon registered her 1,000th career kill in a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to New Mexico Highlands University, on Tuesday evening at Greyhound Arena.
The first set began with both the Cowgirls and Greyhounds trading points, with the Hounds surging to a 15-11 lead. N.M. Highlands immediately closed the gap to tie the game, but ENMU responded with a 6-1 streak featuring kills from Kali Nelson and Mikaela Garvin, 21-16 Eastern. The Cowgirls came within two points, but ENMU held on to the set 25-23, finished off with a Garvin kill.
Eastern started hot in the second set, jumping out to a 11-5 advantage. ENMU kept their distance in the lead, holding out to take a 25-19 win. The Hounds were paced by four kills from Gannon, while Garvin, Nelson, and Jordan O’Connor-Dempsey all added three kills in the second frame.
New Mexico Highlands took over in the third set, rattling off a 11-2 stretch of points, to hold a 13-9 lead. ENMU continued to work its way back into the set, but could not catch the Cowgirls, 25-17, putting the score at 2-1 ENMU.
The Cowgirls continued the momentum and garnered an early 9-3 advantage. ENMU tired to get back in the set, but N.M. Highlands held a six-point gap on set point. However, ENMU tallied six straight points with McKinzie Davis and Adriana Puni at the service line. The comeback started after a Gracelyn Stubbs kill, which Davis then lined up a service ace. Puni was then subbed in to serve the rest of the way. Puni collected a service ace, and a block for Gannon and Stubbs tied the set at 24-24. Each team were cautious, but traded points producing five ties and five lead changes, 30-30. From then, New Mexico Highlands found a kill and capitalized on an ENMU mistake to finish the fourth set 32-30.
The final set saw each team go back and forth with the lead, with neither team able to establish a lead larger than two points. However, a two-point streak from ENMU gave themselves a 10-8 lead. This two-point stretch featured a Davis kill and a kill from Gannon, which marked Gannon surpassing 1,000 career kills. From then, N.M. Highlands bounced back to bring the score to 12-11 Eastern. At that point, the Cowgirls closed the game with a 4-1 scoring streak, which took the final set 15-13, and the match 3-2.
Gannon set a season high in kills with 18, along with a season high in total blocks with four.
Also adding the attack, Garvin finished with 18 kills, Stubbs found 11 kills, while O’Connor-Dempsey added eight kills to the Hounds attack (All those marks were career highs for Garvin, Stubbs, and O’Connor-Dempsey).
Defensively, Gannon led all Greyhounds in digs with 15. Grace Ramirez marked a career best with 13 digs. Stubbs lead all competitors in total blocks with six.
Gannon is only the fourth Greyhound to ever reach the 1,000-kill mark, joining the likes of Jennifer Goble (1,687), Christabell Mariner (1,600), and Lauren Frye (1,472) in the ENMU history books.
This is the second five-set match in the last two meetings between the two programs. N.M. Highlands came out on top in the last meeting, 3-2, in Las Vegas, N.M.
The Greyhounds and Cowgirls squared off in Greyhound Arena for the first time since 2016, a 3-1 victory for ENMU.
As a team, Eastern set season highs in kills (64), and assists (62)
Eastern jumps back into conference play at Greyhound Arena on Friday, Sept. 24, to take on LSC foe Western New Mexico University. The evening match is slated for 6 p.m.