Aggie Volleyball Signs Four

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State volleyball head coach Mike Jordan announced the signing of four student-athletes for the 2015 season on Thursday, including two players from the state of New Mexico.

Tatyana Battle, Briana Ainsworth, Bryn Popovich and Megan Hart have all signed on to begin playing for Jordan and the Aggies beginning next season.

“It’s an athletic class filled with a lot of size, which is something we need,” Jordan said. “They all come from winning backgrounds and they’re all great young women, we’re excited to have them all.”

Battle just finished her volleyball career at Cibola High School in Albuquerque by leading the Cougars to the 6A state championship. The 6-0 outside hitter led her team to a straight-set win in the championship match over No. 1 Rio Rancho after posting a match-high 21 kills.

She finished her senior season at Cibola with 251 total kills, a 5.10 kills per set average and a .408 hitting percentage while adding 193 digs, 38 total blocks and 20 service aces.

“Tatyana is a six-rotation player that’s got a lot of skill now, she’s improved a lot this last year,” Jordan said. “I think Tatyana will fill a hole for us in that she is a six-rotation outside hitter, someone that can stay on the floor.”

Battle also plays for the Albuquerque Rebels club team, which has finished in the top 5 in several national tournaments, including a first-place finish at the 17-open Disney Showcase in Orlando, Florida, earlier this year.

Ainsworth, another Albuquerque native, played her high school volleyball at Cleveland High School. One of the best setters in the state of New Mexico, Ainsworth led the Storm to the semifinals of this season’s 6A state championships. Ainsworth did help Cleveland to the 2012 New Mexico state championship.

The 5-8 setter finished her senior season with 868 assists and an 11.90 assists per set average. She also added 245 digs and 78 kills.

“Briana is a winner,” Jordan said. “She’s not a big setter but she locates really well and she’s got a lot of experience setting balls with a little bit of pace to the antenna and she’s a good defender and really good server.”

For her Storm career Ainsworth finished with 2,458 total assists, including 1,037 as a sophomore, an 11.80 career assists per set average and 600 digs.

Ainsworth is also a teammate of Battle on the Albuquerque Rebels club team.

Popovich hails from Sierra Vista, Ariz., where she played for the Buena High School Colts. The 6-2 outside hitter lettered all four years in high school and has earned all-division and All-Southern Arizona honors the last three years.

“Popovich is a good front-row athlete,” Jordan said, “but is also a very good back-row attacker long term, someone we can see playing in six rotations with some work.”

This season she led the team with 242 total kills and a 3.80 kills per set average. For her career Popovich has amassed 704 kills, 99 blocks, 449 digs and 128 service aces.

Hart is a 6-4 middle hitter from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She plays her prep volleyball for Immaculata Regional High School where she was a three-time first team all-star selection.

“Megan is a 6-4 gifted athlete with arm speed that can play multiple positions in the front row,” Jordan said.

Hart also plays for two of the biggest club teams in British Columbia, one of which won the 17-under British Columbia Provincial championship earlier this year.

The current Aggies are in Bakersfield, Calif., awaiting the winner of tonight’s match between third-seeded Bakersfield and No. 6 seed Texas-Pan American. NM State plays the winner on Friday in the semifinal round of the WAC Tournament. All WAC Tournament matches can be seen live over the Internet on the new WAC Digital Network. Go to www.wacsports.com and click the ‘WAC Digital Network’ link for access.