NMMI Sports Press
The New Mexico Military Institute volleyball team (23-8, 8-0) used a pair of late rallies in Sets 2 and 3 to down conference foe Western Texas College (7-21, 1-7) at home in three straight sets Saturday.
This was the second WJCAC match-up between the two teams — NMMI earned a 3-1 victory in Snyder, Texas, on Sept. 19 — and keeps the Broncos at the top of the conference standings with a perfect 8-0 record with two more matches remaining in the regular season.
The Institute had few problems with the Westerners in the first set, leading the entire way in a 25-17 final, but WTC reversed that in the second set, serving up an early 4-0 lead.
The Westerners extended that lead to eight midway through the second set, thanks to a combination of excellent blocking and NMMI miscues, but the Broncos came storming back to take the game in extended play, 29-27.
The third set was almost a mirror of Set 2. WTC gained an early lead, grew that margin during the middle, and had NMMI down 24-19 late. But freshman outside hitter Peyton Schendt served up seven straight points for the Broncos, including an ace, to close out the set and match, 26-24.
"We just really struggled to get in any kind of offensive rhythm, from Set 1 all the way to the very end," explained head Bronco coach Shelby Forchtner. "It came in spurts, which was helpful to win Sets 2 and 3, because it came at the right time, but for some reason, even our defense really struggled to dig easier-tempo balls in this game. This was just an off game for us and we were lucky to come away with a win on our home floor."
"We actually did some good things," laughed Forchtner when being asked about the seven-point comeback run in Set 3. "But the one thing about this match is that we made a lot of errors, then came back and played consistently late in sets to get the wins. I don't know what we need to do in the beginning and middle parts, but we've got to get it together."
Despite the lack of consistency, the NMMI offense knocked down 49 kills in the match, led by Schendt's 14. Gabriela Langi had 12 kills and the best attack percentage (.290) among those who made more than five attempts, while Agape Mafua had 11.
Next up for NMMI will be another home conference match, against Frank Phillips College on Wednesday.
"To me, Frank Phillips is a very well-rounded team with good balance," said Forchtner. "They're a team you've really got to watch out for: scrappy on defense and have a good setter. They've just had a bunch of injuries – kind of like all of us this year – so that every time you see them, they're a little bit different of a team and you don't know exactly what you're going to get. If they're all healthy... well, we just need to elevate our game from how we played today."