Category Archives: Bronco Volleyball

Broncos collect win in three sets against Westerners

Gabriela Langi with one of her nine kills on the night. She co-led the team in kills along with Vittoria Price.

NMMI Sports Press

The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team defeated the Western Texas College Westerners in three sets (25-11, 25-5, 25-13) in Cahoon Armory Gym on Wednesday.

The Broncos have played each team in the conference and are 5-0 in the first run through teams in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference. They’ll play each one more time before the Region V West postseason tournament.

Vittoria Price and Gabriela Langi led the Bronco offense with nine kills each.  Violeta Mendoza Quintana, Tiffany Gauspohl, and Hula Crisostomo led NMMI with eight digs. Alyssa Lukasik had six blocks to lead the Broncos in that category.

“They did a really good job tonight,” said head Bronco volleyball coach Shelby Forchtner. “In the beginning we made a couple of errors and they cleaned it up throughout the set. The second set, I thought we played really smoothly and the third set we got a bunch of people in and they did exactly what the starters did. It wasn’t a drastic change.”

Next up for the undefeated Broncos, who move to 26-0 on the season, will be a road-trip to play in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to take on three ranked teams in the nation including No. 3 Seward CC.

“We play four really tough teams at the Reiver Festival Tournament this weekend,” said coach Forchtner, who played for Seward during her junior colleges days. “We’ll face the No. 3, No. 7 and No. 18 teams in the nation and another tough team in the Jayhawk Conference. It will be nice for us to go out on the floor against some really good competition.”

“Seward is a little bit like Odessa,” continued Forchtner about the match pitting the third and fourth-ranked teams in the nation in a possible post-season preview of nationals. “They are way more offensive than they are defensive. They are big and they can block. We are better defensively. If we come to play, I think that will be a really great match.”

“Iowa Western has been playing great the last couple of weeks and they have been a top five team nationally throughout the years,” said the NMMI coach with regards to the other top-ten match-up on the slate. “We are really excited to play them.”

“Panola has been in and out of the rankings,” said Forchtner about the 18th-ranked Fillies. “They play in one of the better conferences in the nation and constantly playing really competitive teams. They are a little bit smaller, but really athletic.”

“We are going to go up there and play some really good competition from top to bottom,” concluded the coach.

After Iowa, the Broncos will back at for the second go-around of WJCAC play, hosting Odessa College at 2:00 PM on Saturday, October 19th in the Cahoon Armory gymnasium.

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.”

Bronco volleyball moves to 17-0, Price named WJCAC Player of the Week

NMMI Sports Press

The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team went 5-0 last the week, keeping their perfect record – now at 17-0 – untarnished.

NMMI picked up their first Western Junior College Athletic Conference win on Wednesday against New Mexico Junior College, needing all five sets to down the Thunderbirds, then collected a quartet of victories at Hutchinson’s Blue Dragon Classic over the weekend, including three-set wins against two nationally-ranked opponents: No. 7 Tyler Junior College and No. 14 Mineral Area College.

The Institute’s other two wins in Hutch came against Missouri State University – West Plains, where they again needed five sets, and Jefferson College in four.

While head Bronco volleyball coach Shelby Forchtner was definitely happy with how her team played overall last week, she still has several concerns, including how her squad competes against teams without as many offensive weapons or defensive abilities.

“When we play good teams, we play out of our minds,” said coach Forchtner. “Every single time that we have played competitive teams that are good at everything, we have played at a really high level. We seem to offensively click better, serve a little bit tougher, play better defense – just very balanced in everything that we do, and it shows statistically. But then when we go face teams that aren’t as good as us defensively or offensively, that maybe only have one or two weapons, we just seems to play at what we’re looking at across the net.”

And again, just like last week, the keyword for the Lady Broncos going forward will be ‘adjust’.

“We just have to be able to adjust better to some of these teams. We did a better job with this – in some situations – at Hutch, but we’ve still got to be able to make minor adjustments during a match,” said Forchtner.

Sophomore libero Hula Crisostomo had another amazing week for the Broncos, who sit currently in at No. 5 in the NJCAA’s D1 rankings for the second straight week. In 20 sets over five matches, Crisostomo dug out 126 opposition attacks, good for a 6.3 digs-per-set average. She also led NMMI in aces, with seven.

The all-around performance of NMMI freshman middle Vittoria Price was another big reason the Bronco volleyball team was able to keep their undefeated record intact. Price had 46 kills in 20 sets with a .376 attack percentage, earning her WJCAC Player of the Week honors. She also hit five aces, had 22 digs, one solo block and 18 block assists.

Sophomore outside hitter Violeta Mendoza Quintana had the highest kill total for NMMI with 47 and second in total digs with 69. Frosh Alyssa Lukasik was close behind with 41 kills while leading the Institute in blocks with three solos and 19 assists. Soph Gabriela Langi also hit the 40 kill tally and double-digits in blocks with one solo and 14 assists.

Next up for NMMI is their second WJCAC match, on the road against another NJCAA-ranked opponent, No. 16 Odessa College. First serve is scheduled for 6:00 PM CDT on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

“They are good,” said Forchtner emphatically about the Wranglers. “They are a very offensive team and we are a very defensive team. They are big across the board with threats coming from every angle of attack. I think we’ll be able to hold our own defensively, like we’ve been doing all season long, but our offense is really going to have to step up, like they did against ranked teams like Snow, Yavapai and Tyler.”

After the mid-week conference tilt, Forchtner and her team fly out to Florida for the Viking Invitational, hosted by St. John’s River State College in Palatka, where they’ll get to compete against four teams from the Sunshine State over the weekend.

Broncos survive Thunderbird scare to stay undefeated

Barbara Celar sets the ball against the Thunderbirds. Along with Celar’s setting duties she collected four big kills for the Broncos during the five set victory on Wednesday.

NMMI Sports Press

The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team kept their perfect record unblemished, but it took a full five sets to down the visiting New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds, moving 5th-ranked  NMMI to a 13-0 overall record and their first win in conference play.

The brand-new volleyball program at NMJC, under head coach Alexandra Lehockey, walked into a packed gym at the Cahoon Armory gymnasium on Wednesday, with the NMMI Corps of Cadets cramming the north, south and east bleachers, and the fans and faculty filling up the west.

The near-capacity crowd played into the favor of the home Broncos for the first two sets. NMMI’s offense and defense was clicking on all cylinders, giving the Institute two relatively easy wins in Sets 1 and 2: 25-16 and 25-18. It looked like it was going to be another quick three-set win for the Broncos, who hadn’t yet needed a fifth set to get any of their previous 12 victories.

But any intimidation felt by the T-Birds and their 7-10 overall record, was quickly replaced by encouragement, emboldened by big blocks by NMJC’s 6-foot-3 middle Melissa Schroder, and aided by a sputtering Institute offense.

The Thunderbirds went ahead early in Set 3, then survived a late Bronco rally to earn a 25-23 victory.

That momentum continued into the fourth set: the Bronco block attempt seemed to disappear, and every T-Bird attack seemed to find a hole on the NMMI side of the court.  NMJC rode that wave to a 25-18 triumph.

In the fifth set, however, the Broncos rallied, taking the first two points on big hits on the outside from freshman Julia Johnson and then sophomore Barbara Celler. The crowd, and especially Corps of Cadets rallied as well, as NMMI went up 8-3 and then 12-4.

NMJC made one last attempt at the upset, clawing back to 13-9, before NMMI was able to close out the match, 15-10, on kills by sophomore Gabriela Langi and then NMMI’s 6-foot-3 freshman Vittoria Price.

NMMI’s offensive unit, which looked both brilliant at times at tentative at others, was led in kills by Price with 15. Freshman Alyssa Lukasik was close behind with 13, and Lange hit double-digits as well with 10.

Defensively, soph Hula Crisostomo, last week’s NJCAA D1 Defensive Player of the Week, continued her clip to stay in the nation’s top-five for digs-per-set, with 34. Fellow sophs Violeta Quintana and Celler had 14 and 12, respectively. On the blocking side, however, the Brocno numbers were less than impressive, with just eight total block assists and zero solos: Langi with four, Price with three, and Lukasik with one.

“We actually knew that NMJC was going to be a lot better than what we saw on opening weekend when they were here at the NMMI Classic,” said head Bronco coach Shelby Forchtner. “They were still struggling to put together a line-up, but we knew that they were going to get better and better as the season went on.”

“In the first set, we really did a lot of things well,” continued coach Forchtner. “We played good defense, we served really tough, we blocked some balls, and offensively, everyone seemed to be doing pretty good. Then the second set rolls around, we don’t block any balls, our serving starts to falter, not in terms of missed serves, but just starting to put balls right onto their platform, not making them move at all. We just made it easier for NMJC as the match went on, instead of making it more difficult – our serving should have gotten tougher, our blocking should have gotten better. And when those two things went downhill, our offense went with it.”

Asked about what inspired the turn-around in the fifth set, coach Forchtner’s response could be summed up in one word: sophomores.

“In set five, we just asked our sophomores to set up,” said coach. “They were ones that really started to struggle in Sets 2, 3 and 4. But we also needed to feed the middles. NMJC wasn’t able to stop our middle attack, but our setters kept trying to get everybody involved and distribute the ball equally – but no, if they can’t defend something, we should just continue to pound it right there.”

And that ability to adjust during a match, or refusal to do so, is what made Wednesday’s game against the T-birds so close.

“NMJC went out and made adjustments. They made some blocking adjustments, they made some defensive adjustments, they started making some changes to whom they were serving to on our side. Our players, however, didn’t make the adjustments during the game that we were asking them to make. They made adjustments and we didn’t. Going into Hutch, I told our kids that that’s the word we really need to start off the weekend with: adjust. If we can’t adjust, we’re really going to struggle this weekend.”

Coach Forchtner also knows that with a top-ten NJCAA team ranking, opponents are going to step-up play when competing against the Broncos.

“We have a target on our back with the No. 5 national ranking,” said Forchtner. “Everyone wants to beat a nationally-ranked team. I think our team can handle that load, but we need to understand that with such a ranking, there’s not going to be any easy games.”

Next up for the NMMI squad will be the Blue Dragon Invitational, held in Hutchinson, Kansas. Hutchinson Community College, commonly shortened to just ‘Hutch’, will also be the site of this year’s NJCAA D1 Women’s Volleyball National Championships. The Broncos will take on several quality programs in Hutch on Friday and Saturday (Sept. 20-21) including the nation’s 14th-ranked team, Mineral Area College.

Crisostomo named NJCAA Player of the Week; Undefeated Broncos Ranked 5th in Nation

NMMI Sports Press

The Bronco volleyball team got to enjoy a rare week off from action, but that didn’t stop another pair of honors from being given to the undefeated NMMI squad: defensive specialist/libero Ha’ahulakaleikaimana “Hula” Crisostomo was named Defensive Player of the Week for both the Region V and at the NJCAA DI level overall; and the team is ranked No. 5 nationally, for the second week in a row.

“Hula is very deserving of this defensive award,” said coach Shelby Forchtner. “She probably could have got it the last three weeks, just in terms of the stats she puts up on a weekly basis. It’s pretty impressive.”

Those stats include being ranked fourth nationally in digs-per-set, with six, and 11th nationally in total digs with 240 over 40 sets in 12 matches. Seventy-seven of those digs came when the Broncos last took the court, going 4-0 in the Odessa College Invitational on Sept. 6-7.

But, the Hawaiian native said, it’s not only her effort that made the award possible.

“It’s super cool that Shelby trusts me and believes in my capabilities to be the starting libero this year, even though I had really tough competition between Yumeno (Nawa) and Kiki (Kristijana Istuk),” the sophomore said. “They’re both good defensive specialists and they could easily take my spot. But I think it’s an excellent situation – all three of us can compete against each other when we’re scrimmaging. It just forces us to play at a competitive level so that we all get better each and every day.”

And the coach agrees.

“This is probably the best defensive dynamic duo I’ve coached in 16 years,” she said of Crisostomo and Nawa. “They work very well together. They’re very smooth playing next to each other. They talk a lot. They work hard to make the other one better. It’s really impressive when one of them needs to work on something, the other one stays behind and hits balls at her. They just have a mutual respect for each other, even though they’re fighting for the same position. So far it’s been very impressive to watch them play together.”

The 5-foot-1 Crisostomo said she owes her success to many people who have helped her along the way.

“I really gotta thank my teammates, my coaching staff, plus my family back home: my coaches, my friends and my teammates for making me the player I am today and getting this far,” she said.

But while individual honors are good, the Broncos have had their best team start to the season since Forchtner can remember. They’re 12-0, with most of their matches decided in three sets. They haven’t played a fifth set yet this season, and only played four sets in half of their matches.

They swept the home-town Bronco Classic; the Dalton Overstreet Invitational in Prescott, Ariz. and the Odessa College Tournament. And they didn’t play easy teams, either. Wins came over current No. 6 Snow College and No. 19 Yavapai College and previously ranked Monroe College and Arizona Western.

But Forchtner knows it’ll only get more difficult, as, after the week of rest, the Broncos head to Hutchinson, Kan., for the always-tough Blue Dragon Invitational.

“Pretty much every team we face is going to be a tough team there, so it’ll be a really good test for us after having this week off from playing matches to see if we can do the same thing now that we’ve had a little rest,” she said.

After struggling at the Kansas tourney the last few years with no rest, Forchtner tweaked the schedule a bit this year to give them the early break.

“The last few years, it’s always seemed like we’ve always really struggled at Hutch to get wins, and I think it was us starting on Aug. 1 and never having a day off,” she said.

So, after enjoying the weekend, the Broncos will get back to practice working on the things they need to improve to make them even better than they have been.

“I think we’re always trying to just figure out our weaknesses and try to make them better,” the coach said, pointing out that their aces to serving errors number really improved in their last tourney, along with a drop in receiving errors.

“Overall, I feel like we’re getting better and better and better,” Forchtner said. “Now we’ve just got to focus in on our block and coverage, and transition. There’s just a few things that we watched in game film that we’re not doing on every single ball. And I think if we could start to do it every single ball, our overall offense would get a little better. [As a team] we’re putting up solid offensive numbers; it would just be nice to have those numbers come from five or six players instead of three or four.”

And, while the competition in Kansas will let them gauge where they’re at, it’ll also be nice to give the team a chance to see where they’ll play should they return to the NJCAA National Championships, which once again will be hosted by Hutchinson.

“I think it’s going to be nice to see the competition this next weekend and see what we’re really made of. It’s always nice to go back to a place where they’re hosting nationals, and you can tell your kids, ‘Hey! This is where we want to get back to.’”