The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team picked up their second conference win of the season, downing WJCAC foe Odessa College in three straight sets at home: 25-20, 25-14, 25-22.
The Wednesday match in the Cahoon Armory gym was packed and rowdy with cadets who were constantly on their feet cheering and stomping their Lady Broncos to victory.
“I think Odessa will play 75% better on their home floor,” explained head Bronco coach Shelby Forchtner. “I think our environment kind of freaks people out – they think that they can control it and everything is going to be fine because they’re listening to the noise and commotion during warm-up, but once our cadets get going and an opposing team makes a few errors, that gets in their head. As much as people say that the atmosphere of our gym doesn’t phase them, I really think that we have a huge advantage at home. And we’ll also definitely have to step up our game when we play Odessa again in their gym.”
And so with the Corps of Cadets acting as a seventh-player, along with exceptional serving by the Broncos, NMMI cruised to relatively easy victories in the first two sets.
“I think our team just came out and served really, really well in Game 1 and Game 2 to keep Odessa out-of-system, so they couldn’t take these big, huge swings on every play,” continued Forchtner. “We didn’t have a ton of aces, but we got a lot of free balls and a lot of down balls in those first two sets because we were serving so tough. And you can’t really stat an out-of-system ball, but it just made it easier for our defense. Our defense just played lights-out and [on offense] Agape Mafua struggled a bit in the first set, but then took over in sets two and three.
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But in the third set, Odessa went on an early run to take an 8-3 lead.
“They kind of reversed the roles in Game 3 and served us a whole lot tougher than we were serving them at the start,” stated Forchtner. “We were making errors on serve-receive that we hadn’t made in the first two sets. That gave Odessa some confidence and then we starting making some offensive errors, our passing wasn’t as good, our serving not as tough.”
But coach Forchtner was pleased with how her team battled back.
“Once we regained the lead, we never let it go,” she said “but it was hard getting that control back.”
The kill leader for the Broncos was freshman OH Peyton Schendt with 14 kills. She also tied for the digs lead with frosh libero Hula Crisostomo, each with 16. Sophomore middle Mafua was close behind Schendt in kills with 12, and led the team in hitting percentage at .450. NMMI’s three aces came from freshman setter Barbara Celler with two, and one by sophomore DS Karime Raygoya.
The rest of this week, including the weekend, the Broncos are off. The past three weekends have been spent at tournaments: their own NMMI Classic to start the season on Aug. 24-25, where NMMI went 4-0 in match play without dropping a set; a 2-2 performance at the Salt Lake INNvitational on Aug. 31-Sept.1; and another 4-0 match mark at the Odessa Wrangler Classic on Sept. 7-8, including a 3-0 win over 20th-ranked Blinn College.
“Taking a break will be wonderful,” said Forchtner. “We’ve got some players who definitely need to get caught up. It’s going to be good to get some time off. We need to rest. We always seemed to hit a wall around this time in previous seasons, and tended to play really bad wherever we went, so we decided this season to go ahead and take a break. We’ve been going since the first of August, so it’ll be good for our team to rest and relax.”
Next match for NMMI will be a conference tilt in Snyder, TX vs. Western Texas College on Wed. Sept. 19, set for a 7:00 PM CDT start.