The NMSU women’s volleyball team has been dominating this season.
Last week NMSU went on the road to face off against the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which is No. 2 in the WAC, and Chicago State. The Aggies returned home with wins against both teams, which improved their overall record to 17-3 (8-0 WAC) and extended their win streak to nine straight victories. If they continue at their current pace, the Aggies will likely be favored to win the WAC title and advance to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.
Outside hitter Krysten Garrison indicated she’s excited to be a part of the team’s success. “Last year I didn’t really see the court a lot and we were really successful last year, but being a part of it this year and being successful again has been really cool,” Garrison said.
Garrison indicated that it can be difficult for her at times when it comes to the sport and being away from her home state of Missouri. “I really wanted to go somewhere far away from home, but now that I don’t have family watching it’s kind of hard.”
While Garrison is still relatively new on the floor, she will without a doubt develop and grow as a player training with a team like the Aggies. This year the team still consists of many team veterans.
Senior Megan Hart stated that every member on the team grows in their own way. “I think I’ve had kinda of a full flip,” Hart said. “I was injured my freshman year, so I really didn’t get to do much. As I progress I think I’ve gotten stronger and more able to make more plays on the court.” Hart currently leads the WAC in hitting percentage and is ranked 16th in the nation.
According to head coach Mike Jordan, if athletes stay healthy, improve during the off-season and the team consists of returning players, you have a recipe for a good team. The Aggies are especially strong defensively. They currently lead the nation in opponent hitting percentage while ranking fourth in blocks per set and eighth nationally in total blocks. Coach Jordan also stated that what matters most to coaches and staff is how much they can help improve student athletes to compete at the best of their capacity.
Last year the Aggies made their way to the NCAA tournament, but were booted sooner than anticipated. According to Jordan, the matching system is different in volleyball compared to other sports. Every team ranked below the top 16 teams is paired off geographically. It is possible a team that is ranked in the 30s or 40s nationally can be paired up with a team ranked in the top 10 or 20. “We’ve got to prepare ourselves to play at the highest level we can regardless of who are opponents may be,” Jordan said. “In our conference we have good teams, but we don’t have top-20 ranked caliber teams, so in practice we have to train like we’re going to play those teams.”
To balance out the experience and development of the team, Jordan makes sure to train each player at a level they are capable of competing against during practice matches. Jordan emphasizes that it wouldn’t be beneficial for top ranked players to practice against inexperienced players.
As far as the NCAA tournament goes, the Aggies are aiming to return, not with a vengeance, but with mere determination. “I’m really ready for it. I wanna go further in the tournament than we’ve ever been. I think our fire is burning to get there and dominate and play our best in those games,” Hart said.
The Aggies will resume play tonight at 6 p.m. when they face off against Utah Valley at the Pan Am Center here in Las Cruces. Not only does the team hope to continue its incredible win streak, the team is really hoping to turn in a good match.