Fifth-ranked Broncos take care of the Chaparrals in conference play

NMMI’s Heleine Filipe (left) and Alyssa Lukasik (right) team up on a block attempt during the Institute’s conference match against Midland College on Monday. Filipe and Lukasik combined for eight assisted blocks against the Chaparrels, helping the fifth-ranked Broncos earn their third conference win and move to 23-0 overall. Photo courtesy of Shutternut.

NMMI Sports Press

The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team showed no jet lag from their Florida trip last weekend as they defeated Western Junior College Athletic Conference foe Midland College in three sets (25-9, 25-13, 25-7) on Monday.

The Broncos went 4-0 in the Sunshine State at the St. Johns River State College tournament, keeping their perfect record intact, but after returning on Sunday, NMMI had little time to recuperate prior to their third WJCAC match of the season.

Fan support may have helped the Institute take down the Chaps in straight sets, playing at home in the Cahoon Armory gymnasium in front of a nice-sized crowd, including two local volleyball teams from Dexter High School and Berrendo Middle School. Or, it could have simply been that despite remaining undefeated with 22-0 record prior to Monday’s match, NMMI has been stuck for two weeks straight at the No. 5 slot in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s D1 ranking system.

Regardless of the reason for being fired up, it was big runs of six or more in the beginning of each set that controlled the pace of play for the night. Helping get those runs started was the offensive firepower of freshmen Alyssa Lukasik in the middle and Julia Johnson on the outside – each with seven kills during the match. Two more frosh slapped down solid kill counts with six each: outside hitter Heleine Filipe and middle blocker Vittoria Price.

And, as has been the hallmark of the Bronco team this season, the backcourt defense was almost perfect, with only one reception error, and eight digs each by sophomore Violeta Mendoza Quintana, freshman Tiffinay Gauspohl and the nation’s current leader in total digs, sophomore Hula Crisostomo.  Also impressive on the evening was the Institute’s defense at the net, with seemingly every ball hit by Midland being partially deflected if not blocked altogether. Lukasik led that charge with six blocks assist in the battle above the mesh at mid-court.

Head Bronco volleyball coach Shelby Forchtner was thrilled her team finished the match with the intensity and focus that they did.

“We played three good sets tonight with only four attack errors,” said coach Forchner. “We have been talking a lot about playing hard for the whole match, no matter who was on the other side, and I felt like we did that – from beginning to end – in every set tonight.  We were efficient and effective from the first point, all the way through to the very end.”

Next up for NMMI will be a trio of conference matches: at Frank Phillips College on Wednesday, Oct. 2 @ 6:00 PM CDT; at Clarendon College on Saturday, Oct. 5 @ 2:00 PM CDT; then back home to host Western Texas College on Wednesday, Oct. 9 @ 6:00 PM MDT.

“We just need to take care of business,” said Forchtner about the upcoming conference competitions. “I think all of the teams in our conference, from top to bottom, are better this year. We need stay effective. If we can hit .500 like we did tonight against everyone, it would be a drastic difference in our level of play, because we are always pretty good defenders and on serve receive  – it’s been our offense going up and down, based off who we play. If can be this effective offensively, we’ll be pretty hard to stop.”

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