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Post-season accolades continue for third-in-nation Bronco volleyball

NMMI Sports Press

The record-breaking year for the Bronco volleyball team continues even after the successful season wrapped up with a third-place finish at the NJCAA National Championship tournament.

For the first time ever, the NMMI team had two players picked as NJCAA DI All-Americans, a player selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All American team, and a coach named as the AVCA Two-Year College Assistant Coach of the Year.

Karen “Paola” Rivera-Herrera and Hannah Davis were the tandem tapped for the NJCAA All-American award; Rivera-Herrera as the AVCA All-American; and assistant coach Alonso Ibarra garnered the Coach of the Year award.

Ibarra was nominated by head coach Shelby Forchtner, who said the award was especially sweet because most honorees come from the team that wins the national title.

“Most assistant coaches get it if their team wins a national championship. That happens a lot,” she said. “So I’m really excited he got it because he only has two years of work here at NMMI, and we’ve been very successful in both of those years.”

The honor came for the El Paso native despite having to coach at nationals in a cast after Achilles tendon surgery.

“That definitely didn’t stop me from doing what I love,” he laughed. “In the videos from our national tournament you still saw me hopping around. I was just trying to do my thing: get excited, throw my fist pumps when I get a chance to do it, still give it my 100 percent – because these girls deserve how far we got and I just wanted to be there for them.”

Ibarra came to the Institute from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2016, and immediately began making a difference.

“I think he’s very deserving of the award,” Forchtner said. “He does a lot of work and he puts a lot of time in, especially as far as the kids individually. He’s a well-rounded coach – does a lot of good things defensively and offensively, and that’s a really good tool.”

“I’m really honored to get the award,” Ibarra said. “It feels really good when someone puts you in a position of being nominated for a big award and receiving it.”

Ibarra is bilingual, which helps both in recruiting and translating for Spanish-speaking players. And while the assistant downplayed what he does — giving the players the credit for all the team’s success — Forchtner said it’s Ibarra’s skills as a “people person” that help him the most.

“It’s just great having somebody who enjoys the game of volleyball as much as I do,” continued Forchtner. “I think he’s a good buffer for my personality sometimes, and I think the kids really enjoy being around him.”

The All-American honors were equally special, since NMMI has never earned more than one NJCAA award in a season. Herrera-Rivera and Davis were part of a trio of unanimous nominees from the WJCAC conference, two of only 30 players from the entire NJCAA Division I to be named to the All-American squad.

Yet Forchtner thought others on the No. 3-finishing Broncos were deserving as well, noting it was really hard to choose who to nominate.

“This year, with this team and the balance and the dynamic that we had, obviously we could have had two more people up there,” she said. “McKayla Landreth is just as talented, and Karime (Raygoza), our little freshman, does some really, really good stuff out there as well. Hannah and Paola just set themselves apart statistically throughout the entire season, carrying a little bit higher percentage weight in terms of overall stats.”

Davis, a 6-foot-1 sophomore from Utah, was the kill leader for the Broncos, tallying 363 kills in 42 matches, good for 25th in nation. She was second on the squad in total blocks with 132, placing her at No. 17 nationally. She also added 34 service aces.

“We love that she could shut down people on the right side, blocking other outside hitters,” Forchtner said. “She did a great job for us offensively and she’s also a great server. Hannah is just a very well-rounded package and I honestly believe she’s going to go to a great Division I or Division II program and be very successful there, because she still has a really good ceiling ahead of her.”

Davis was happy and excited to earn the honor.

““I am honored and humbled to receive such an awesome award. I just felt like it all paid off, all the hard work I’d put in for volleyball and in the corps and in the classroom,” she said.

“I spent a lot of extra time writing down what I needed to work on,” Davis said. “After practices, I’d write down things I needed to do more of and things I needed to do less of. You always need to have a mental note of what you need to work on every day and keeping a constant track of everything, rather than just going into the gym and going through the motions, helped.”

“Hannah is competitive,” Forchtner said. “She’s dynamic. She’s a workaholic. She not a kid who just likes the gym and likes volleyball, she likes the weight room. She likes to run. She’s just a total package in terms of NMMI and everything she’s done here. She’s great in the corps. Rarely gets in trouble. She’s great in the classroom. Her teachers love her. She’s a phenomenal teammate. There’s not anybody on our team who does not like Hannah.”

But Davis also credited her teammates, especially for that big kill number.

“By far my favorite thing about volleyball is just getting an amazing kill right after getting a good pass,” she said. “Because there’s no way you can get an amazing kill unless you get an amazing pass from the passer and an amazing set. It just all comes together. It’s just money.”

Davis is still keeping her options open regarding her next step. She’s talking with four-year schools across the country, where she’ll both play and study biology and health sciences. And whatever happens, she says she owes it all to Forchtner and Ibarra.

“I would thank my coaches for getting me here where I am,” she said. “They definitely pushed me past my limits and made me a better athlete and student. They’re always raising the bar high for me. I’m never comfortable staying at a certain level. They’re always making me want to be more and more hungry, so I’m always striving to be better every day.”

With five repeat All-Americans on the NJCAA list this year, freshman Rivera-Herrera could be the first Bronco to earn double honors next year. She is the first NMMI volleyball player to earn an AVCA award, which is chosen from all junior college players at all levels, including the NJCAA, California Community College Athletic Association, Florida College System Activities Association and all independents. She is one of 47 players receiving that award.

This year, she played in every match, racking up 283 kills, 744 assists, and 414 digs. Her 72 service aces on the season was good for third in the nation.

“Paola is a great kid for us because she does everything well,” Forchtner said. “She’s our best server. She’s our best defender. She’s one of our best passers in serve-receive. She is our best setter and she’s is one of the top three swings on our team. So when you are that good at everything, it’s really hard to take her off the floor.”

Yet the coach was not even certain she’d be able to sign the Juarez player.

Forchtner watched Rivera-Herrera play on El Paso club teams as a high-school freshman, sophomore and junior, and was convinced Rivera-Herrera would be grabbed up by a four-year institution. But Rivera-Herrera didn’t play her senior year, and didn’t take the needed tests to get into an NCAA school.

“We got lucky being able to get a kid like that that nobody was able to get at the Division I level, which is where she obviously belongs.”

And even as a college freshman, Rivera-Herrera brought intangibles to the team.

“She brings a dynamic to our team that is kind of effortless,” Forchtner said. “She’s smooth and very controlled in all her movements, and also very calm under pressure. It doesn’t matter what the score is, she’s going to figure out a way to win in the end.”

Replying by text since she had already completed her semester final exams and was travelling back home for the holiday break, Rivera-Herrera said he was “extremely happy” to receive the honor.

“This award is huge to me, coming from Mexico. Receiving this award in the United States is fantastic,” she said.

She credited the Institute with giving her the chance to attend college, and vowed to continue the effort next season.

“I will continue to work hard and train to prepare myself to be a better player and I know all of this is possible by the amount of support that I have received from NMMI,” she said.

And Forchtner said Rivera-Herrera will definitely get a chance to play at a higher level when she leaves the Institute after next season.

“She’s just a phenomenal kid and does some really good things for us.”

After the holiday break, the Bronco off-season begins, with cadets reporting back Jan. 4. Coach Forchtner and Ibarra will be working hard getting them ready for next season, along with hitting the recruiting trail to sign up new talent to fill in the holes left by graduating sophomores.

With some luck and a whole lot of hard work, we’ll likely see NMMI back at the NJCAA National Championships for the third-straight year in a row.

Lady Colts improve to 4-0

 

Geraldlynn Notah dribbling away from a defender.

NMMI Sports Press

Sashkia Pena goes up strong to the basket against Lake Arthur.

The NMMI Lady Colt basketball team won their fourth consecutive game 61-20 against the Lake Arthur Lady Panthers (0-2), Monday evening in Roswell.

The Lady Colts had the momentum from the very beginning and never lost it thanks to back to back steals and layups by Rilan Maloney to open up the quarter. Head coach Marisha Olesinski said, “As a team we played very well and we pushed the fast break, which allowed us to make some easy shots.”

NMMI did not surrender a single point to the Lady Panthers, as the score was 29-0 at the end of the first.

Rilan Maloney attempts one of her two free-throw attempts.

To start the second quarter, NMMI did not have a single starter on the floor. Sashkia Pena, a senior from Sonora, Mexico was a dominant force for the Lady Colts as she scored a game-high 16 points, eight which came in the second quarter helping the Lady Colts to go up at halftime 41-7.

NMMI forced Lake Arthur to turn the ball over 10-plus times in the third quarter, which allowed the Lady Colts to bump their lead up to 55-11 heading into the fourth.

Lake Arthur stormed out to a 4-0 run early in the fourth thanks to Carla Lopez, the Panthers leading scorer who finished with 12 points.  “Our effort was excellent tonight and I am glad all of our girls had a chance to contribute in this victory.”

NMMI has a quick turnaround as they take on Goddard “C” tomorrow at 5:00 PM.

NMMI spoils Gateway’s home opener

Tianna Tsosie dribbles the ball up the court.

NMMI Sports Press

Demitra Ulibarri takes a shot early in the first half agains Gateway.

The NMMI Lady Colt basketball team spoiled Gateway Christian’s season opener by overcoming a 10 point deficit to defeat the Lady Warriors 43-41.

NMMI started off the game sluggish as Gateway stormed out to a 10-4 lead thanks to back to back three-pointers by Megyn Balok. Gateway would take a 14-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. Balok finished with 18 points and 3 assists. Head coach Marisha Olesinski said, “We started off a little sluggish, but turned it around and after that everyone played very well.”

The struggles would continue in the second half as Demitra Ulibarri scored the lone basket for the Lady Colts. Gateway finished the quarter with nine points and that totaled the score to 23-13 heading into halftime.

Abigail Valadez shoots one of her eight free throws.

It was very evident that Olesinski was not happy with her team’s performance the in the first half. Olesinski said, “I told the girls that we can come back, we just needed to stop making so many turnovers,” and that is exactly what happened in the second half.

NMMI came out fast in the third quarter as Abigail Valadez scored back to back layups to cut the lead to 23-17, but the momentum did not last long as Gateway finished the third quarter on an 8-3 run.

Heading into the fourth quarter, NMMI was down six points and starting point guard Tianna Tsosie fouled out in the third quarter. Instead of folding and giving the game to Gateway, NMMI rattled off 2 turnovers in a row to get the Warriors out of sync and tied up the game at 37-37. NMMI went on 5-0 and then a turnover allowed Gateway to tie the game at 41-41 with thirty seconds left.

Demitra Ulibarri takes a shot early in the first half against Gateway.

After a shot hit the iron, Ulibarri grabbed the rebound and made the shot with less than five seconds remaining. Gateway did not get a shot off an NMMI won the game 43-41.

Ulibarri led NMMI offensively with 16 points and Valadez added 13 of her own.

NMMI will take on Lake Arthur Monday at the Godfrey Athletic Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 PM.

 

Colts run out of gas against Tularosa

Jump shot by NMMI’s Khristofer Hill. The 6’7″ junior wing-man led all scorers with 18 points, along with seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Photo by Jay Wilson

NMMI Sports Press

Inlet pass off the fast break by NMMI point guard Juan Reyna. Photo by Jay Wilson

The NMMI Colt basketball team was not able to overcome a slow start and fell to the Tularosa Wildcats 51-41 in their home opener Tuesday evening.

NMMI could not click offensively, scoring only 12 points in the first half on a cold 5 for 22 shooting performance, committing 13 turnovers compared to Tularosa’s three. This led to a 13-0 Tularosa run, and proved to be an insurmountable lead for the Colts to overcome.

Hector Reyna with the drive to the bucket. The senior guard finished with 12 points for the Colts. Photo by Jay Wilson

Head coach Sean Schooley said, “Tularosa is well coached and they did what they were supposed to do. They ran their stuff and took care of the ball and I thought they did a great job.”

Tularosa led 30-12 at halftime and built a 20 point lead, 34-14, within the first 30 seconds of the third quarter. At this point the Colts woke up and rattled off nine unanswered points and closed the gap on the Wildcats halfway through the third quarter.

NMMI forward Nigel Grubbs on defense. Grubbs was the game’s leader in rebounds with 12, including seven on offense. Photo by Jay Wilson

NMMI would trade baskets with the Wildcats to finish the period down 38-27. The Colts fed off that energy and further reducing the Tularosa lead to five points at the 5:36 mark of the fourth quarter. But that was as close the Colts would get as they committed five turnovers the rest of the contest. “I was very proud of our guys because we could have folded and they bounced back and we just ran out of gas and we just couldn’t keep up.,” said Schooley. Tularosa was able to build the lead back up to double digits for the final margin.

Michael Carrejo comes up with a loose ball for the Colts. Photo by Jay Wilson

Leading the way offensively was Khristofer Hill, who finished with a game high of 18 points including back to back three pointers during the 9-0 run the Colts had early in the third quarter. Hector Reyna added 12 points and Nigel Grubbs grabbed 12 rebounds. Tularosa was led by Toby Carrillo who added 13 points in a balanced team attack for the Wildcats.

NMMI (1-1) has a quick turnaround as they take on the Texico Wolverines (1-0) Thursday at 7 PM in Cahoon Armory.

 

 

 

Broncos outgun Fort Bliss

Matt Brown goes up for a layup earlier in the season.

NMMI Sports Press

NMMI closed out the Bronco Classic with a win over Fort Bliss Army Base 112-107, setting their overall record at 7-4 as they head into conference play.

The Broncos performed much better on offense, as the plus-century-mark tally shows, and NMMI had four players in double figures, led by Trevelin Queen with 30. Atem Bior had his second double-double of the tournament, finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

“Every single player had a hand in this victory,“ said head coach Ralph Davis. “Yesterday was a disappointment for sure, but I’m proud that we came back today. We had an opportunity to fold, but instead we fought back late and got the win. Now it’s time to restart and focus on next Wednesday, our first conference game.”

That first conference game is slated for 6:30 P.M. against Clarendon College in Roswell at 6:00 PM.