Four Aggies Earn All-WAC Volleyball Honors

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

BAKERSFIELD, CA - The New Mexico State volleyball team picked up four individual conference awards on Wednesday as the Western Athletic Conference announced its All-WAC and All-Freshman teams along with the WAC Player, Freshman and Coach of the Year.

Aggie juniors Gwen Murphy and Nathalie Castellanos picked up All-WAC second team honors while middle blocker Sasha-Lee Thomas and outside hitter Jordan Abalos were placed on the WAC All-Freshman team.

“Well deserved congratulations to all four players,” Aggie head coach Mike Jordan said. “They’ve all worked hard and are deserving of their honors. We’re very proud of them and their work ethic.”

Murphy, a middle hitter from Elfrida, Ariz., was also part of the Preseason All-WAC team prior to the season. She leads NM State with a .294 hitting percentage and 104 total blocks. Her hitting percentage increased to .338 in WAC matches, good enough for sixth-best in the conference.

On Nov. 1 versus Utah Valley in Las Cruces, Murphy recorded her 300th-career block as an Aggie. She currently sits at 309 career blocks, only 10 blocks from 11th place on the NM State all-time blocks list. She also tied a team season high for blocks in a match after posting eight total blocks against I-25 rival New Mexico.

Murphy is also second on the team with 199 total kills and third with a 2.07 kills per set average.

Castellanos has come on strong at her opposite hitter position during WAC play this season. She leads NM State during the conference schedule with a .350 hitting percentage, 119 kills and a 2.16 kills per set average. Her .350 hitting percentage is fifth best in the WAC.

Overall Castellanos, a local product from Vado, N.M. and Gadsden High School, is third on the Aggie squad with a .288 hitting percentage, 168 kills and 141 assists. She also has added 75 digs and 45 total blocks in 2014.

Castellanos hit a career-high .692 versus Texas-Pan American (Oct. 9) and also marked a career-high 12 kills in both meetings against Utah Valley this season. She also had her first two double-doubles of her career this season.

Abalos and Thomas lead a handful of freshman that have contributed to NM State’s 14th-consecutive winning season.

Abalos, who hails from Safford, Ariz., is fourth on the team in kills both during the entire 2014 season and in WAC play. She has 152 overall kills including 87 in conference matches. Abalos leads the Aggies in service aces per set, 0.24, is tied for second with 17 total service aces and ranks third with a 2.17 kills per set average and a 2.11 digs per set average that includes 148 total digs. She has also added 24 total blocks in 2014.

The 5-10 outside hitter marked a season high 14 kills versus Seattle U on Oct. 30. She has finished with double-figure kills a total of five times during her freshman campaign and has finished with a double-double three times.

Thomas, meanwhile, was one of the best middle blockers in the WAC before a season-ending knee injury ended her season with four matches left in the regular season. Thomas still leads NM State with a 1.15 blocks per set average and still sits in third place among all conference players with a 1.29 blocks per set average in WAC play.

The Pottsville, Pa., native has 53 total blocks in conference play which is still tops on the Aggie squad even though she has missed the last four matches. She will finish the 2014 season with 93 total blocks on the season, the second most on the team, including tying a team season high eight blocks in a match twice during the year.

Thomas is also fifth best on the NM State team with a .260 hitting percentage, 145 total kills and a 1.79 kills per set average.

Missouri-Kansas City swept the top awards as UMKC coach Christi Posey was named WAC Coach of the Year and junior middle hitter Emma Hagedorn was named WAC Player of the Year. Grand Canyon’s Natalie Tardy won the WAC Freshman of the Year award.

The Aggies are in Bakersfield to defend their back-to-back WAC championships. NM State, the No. 2 seed, begins play in the WAC Tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. (MT) versus the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup between host and No. 3 seed Bakersfield and No. 6 seed Texas-Pan American.

2014 WAC Volleyball Postseason Award Winners
First Team
Lauren Bakker Utah Valley Jr. MB
Sydney Crimmins Missouri-Kansas City Jr. RS
Emma Hagedorn Missouri-Kansas City Jr. MH
Taryn Miller Missouri-Kansas City Jr. L
Molly O’Hagan Bakersfield Sr. MB
Martina Samadan Seattle U Jr. MB
Danika Youngblood Bakersfield Sr. OH

Second Team
Nathalie Castellanos New Mexico State Jr. OPP
Shannon Dugan Grand Canyon Sr. OH
Melissa Hartsel Missouri-Kansas City Sr. MH
Luiza Martins Bakersfield Jr. S
Gwen Murphy New Mexico State Jr. MH
McKenna Tait Utah Valley Sr. L
Macky Treanor Utah Valley So. OH

All-Freshmen Team
Jordan Abalos New Mexico State OH
Sydney Haynes Bakersfield RS
Natalie Tardy Grand Canyon OH
Sasha-Lee Thomas New Mexico State MB
Jelena Vujcin Seattle U OPP
Madison Wolford Utah Valley MB

WAC Player of the Year: Emma Hagedorn, Missouri-Kansas City
WAC Freshman of the Year: Natalie Tardy, Grand Canyon
WAC Coach of the Year: Christi Posey, Missouri-Kansas City