Quick starts in all three sets led the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team to another conference victory, keeping their perfect record intact in Western Junior College Athletic Conference play.
Playing at home against Western Texas College (13-16, 2-6), the Lady Broncos (24-11, 8-0) used a combination of a strong serves and relentless offense attacks to win in straight sets, 25-16, 25-21, 25-15.
NMMI never trailed in any of the sets, and built commanding leads in all three. They started the first set of the match with a 7-0 run, led in the second set 11-2, then went up 13-1 to begin set three.
“I think that our kids came out and played really well from the start,” said head Bronco coach Shelby Forchtner. “We talked to them about the way things happened the last time we played WTC on their home court and had to play five sets. They defended us exceptionally well – so we worked on hitting a harder angle and changing up our shot selection. I feel like our kids did a great job on that today. We executed what was open and Western didn’t have the opportunity to defend.”
NMMI had seven service aces in the match, including five by freshman setter and outside hitter Paola Rivera-Herrera.
“Another thing we wanted to do well in the match was to serve tough – and we did that,” continued Forchtner. “We had a lot of aces, we had them out of system, and we got a lot of down balls and free balls. When we serve that way, we can beat a lot of teams.”
On the offensive side, freshman Kim Trauboth led the Lady Broncos in kills with 10, but setters Rivera-Herrera and sophomore Mirna Kovacević did a great job mixing things up, allowing five other NMMI players to finish with five or more kills.
NMMI looked good on defense as well. Trauboth and Rivera-Herrera had 13 digs each, and sophomores McKayla Landreth and Gali Sanchez led the blocking brigade with 1 solo and 12 assisted blocks.
“We’ve got a good line-up on the floor to start,” explained coach Forchtner about the team’s success and four-game winning streak. “We kind of changed some things up a few weeks ago. Our big swings are out there to start, and we’ve changed the rotation so that our best server is serving first. I think it’s helped us start games well. That was one of our issues before, starting off slow, then having to come back to beat teams, with every game being close. And now we’re starting ahead in sets, which puts extra pressure on the opposing team, plus it helps us when we make an error or two, not to lose momentum and confidence, because we’ve still got a good lead.”
But coach Forchtner knows there’s still some tough conference matches left to play.
“We’ve got the two toughest conference matches left, Midland and Odessa. Midland is the hardest place in the world to play. Everything about their environment is drastically different than what we play in normally: they have a huge arena with lots of airflow; their floor is a sport court, which we almost never play on; they have these crazy lights which blind you when you look up. So not only are we going to have to play our best volleyball, but we’ll also have to deal with all of those things.”
“Then we have Odessa back here at home, and they’re definitely one of the best teams in the conference. But this is exactly where we want to be, defending first place,” finished Forchtner.
The match at Midland College will be on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 6:00 pm MDT.
The Lady Broncos will then finish up the regular season at home vs. Odessa on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 2:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend that final match – which will be held at the Cahoon Armory gym on the NMMI campus – and help cheer on our Lady Broncos to what might be a WJCAC conference title and a first-place seed in the Region V West Postseason Tournament, which begins Nov. 3 in Odessa, Texas.