NMMI Sports Press
For the first time in the program's 18-year history, the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco volleyball team landed a player to the NJCAA's vaunted First Team All-American list, with Peyton Schendt selected as an outside hitter. She was one of only four freshmen in the nation to earn the top-team award.
It's the second-straight year that NMMI has garnered All-American honors under head coach Shelby Forchtner: Karen Rivera-Herrera and Hannah Davis both were named All-American outside hitters in 2017, with Rivera-Herrera tagged for second team honors and Davis as an Honorable Mention.
"It was a really big surprise," she said. "I woke up to a text from coach Shelby. She called me and we were freaking out. I'm super honored and excited, as is my whole family. It's just a really good feeling."
Forchtner, who surpassed 300 wins this season during her 13th year at the helm of NMMI's juco volleyball program, said the honor was well deserved.
"Peyton's just a very well-rounded athlete," the coach said. "She does everything well. She's a huge offensive threat. She was in our serve-receive pattern. She played defense and middle-back and swung out of the back row sometimes just as much as she did the front. She's a great little server. She could hit spots. She's just the total package. This is very much well deserved because she's a very well-rounded kid."
Schendt wasn't as certain of her "all around" abilities as was her coach. "My front row is definitely better than my back row," she laughed. "My back row needs some work still, but I think I was a big offensive threat for the team – with hitting and getting some kills."
But her stats show she truly earned the honor.
She played in all 38 games for the Broncos this season, sitting out only five sets. She finished seventh in the nation in kills with 491 (a 3.58 average per set) on 1,354 total attack attempts.
And while the kills column alone justifies Peyton's All-American honors, it is her ability to play in the backcourt that really makes her stand out and got her selected to the first team. Most big-hitters get subbed-out after their time on the front row ends, replaced by a defensive specialist. But Schendt was second in digs for the Broncos this season with 388, behind only libero Hula Crisostomo (who finished No. 7 in the nation in digs with 654).
Schendt was also a terror at the service line, dropping in 41 aces – good for 49th in the NJCAA and second on the Bronco squad – and was a capable blocker when called upon, with 48 total blocks.
But, even though she's only a freshman, Schendt isn't planning on being back at NMMI next season as a sophomore. She came to NMMI as an academy prep student, and is hoping to make it into West Point.
In fact, the choice to come to NMMI last season was a bit of a last minute decision. But despite the hurried process of attending NMMI, coach Forchtner said she fit right in at the military school.
"The whole beginning was really quick: she didn't know a whole lot about NMMI but she has adjusted really well to this environment," said Forchtner. "She's doing really well in the Corps of Cadets, she's handling her business academically, and she was great for us. She was by far one of the most competitive kids in our gym, so I think moving on to the Division I level is going to be an easy transition for her."
And Schendt agrees NMMI helped her in her future plans.
"Definitely coming here has helped me so much," she said. "Everyone I've met. The opportunities I've had here. Shelby has been wonderful and has given me the opportunity to play at the next level as well."
NMMI Athletic director Jose Barron was also happy for Schendt, coach Forchtner and Bronco volleyball program.
"We are very pleased to have Peyton Schendt selected for this ultimate honor by the NJCAA. To have somebody selected as a freshman is outstanding. It is a testament to her abilities and to the coaching and mentoring she has she received under coach Forchtner," stated Barron.
Schendt is the sixth Bronco volleyball player selected as an All-American since the program's start in 2001. Along with Herrera-Rivera and Davis (listed above), the other NMMI All-American are:
- 2014 – Mere Sera, Honorable Mention, middle blocker
- 2013 – Veronika Baric, Second Team, outside hitter
- 2009 – Delores Alaimaleata, Second Team, middle blocker