The Daily Aggie :: 09/01/10

We've posted our previews for the Aggie men's and women's cross country teams. Both squads return virtually every runner from last year's banner season and both squads should be counted among the favorites to take home the WAC title this fall.

The job that coaches Paul and Meaghan Harkins have done with the cross country program is nothing short of remarkable. As we mentioned in the men's previews, the Aggies were an afterthought not just in the conference (never expected to finish better than last) but in their own program as well with just six members on the men's side out of a possible full complement of 20. Just three short years later, the Aggies are maxed out roster-wise and they are poised to win the crown this season.

The women's side has been just about as remarkable, though maybe not quite as dramatic. The women went from sixth in 2007, to fourth in 2008 (a disappointing finish for the squad) to top of the mountain last season. This season they're back to defend their crown and are aiming for a spot at the national meet.

One major thing to note here about both programs is that they also compete in one of, if not the toughest region in the NCAA, the Mountain Region so the renaissance of the Aggie cross country program should not be discounted as perhaps coming against weaker competition.

We have at least one or two more articles on tap regarding the cross country program as well so keep checking back for those.

The Aggie volleyball team opens up the 2010 home slate tonight when they take on CSU-Bakersfield. The Roadrunners are still searching for their first victory this season after going 0-3 in North Dakota.

The Roadrunners are led by outside hitter Lindy DeGeare who has tallied 38 kills through three matches and is averaging 3.45 kills per set. However, she's only hitting .088 and has 27 attack errors. Percentage-wise middle blocker Alysia Baker has the highest hitting percentage at .281 and is averaging 2.81 kills per set.

Defensively, Lauren Holderman leads the way with 55 digs and Chelcy Motes has 11 total blocks.

There are a couple of things working against the Roadrunners tonight (good news for Aggie fans, yes?). The Aggies are opening up at home and are 6-1 in home openers in the past six season (the loss came against Florida State last season). Second, the Aggies should have PLENTY of scouting material on the Roadrunners. CSUB faced a pair of former Aggie assistants in North Dakota when they played Drake and North Dakota. No doubt head coach Mike Jordan was on the phone with both coaches and probably has plenty of game film on the Roadrunners.

If you read yesterday's Daily Aggie, you'd also know that we issued a challenge to Aggie volleyball fans to get out and support the Aggies (read yesterday's entry to find out why we issued the challenge).

Also, be sure to check out the latest entry from Ellen Miks in her Aggie Volleyball Diary.

Tonight's match is set for a 7:00 p.m. first serve and can be heard on the radio on KSNM AM 570. Streaming audio and video will also be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

Finally, the not-so-good news. As you probably already know, BYU will be announcing today that they are going independent in football and sending the rest of their sports to the West Coast Conference (home of Gonzaga, St. Mary's, San Diego, Pepperdine, etc.)

It's not a huge surprise that they made this decision, but that doesn't mean it hurts any less for the WAC. It really dampens the chances that the WAC will be able to invite any FBS level football programs into the WAC (ala the rumored UTEP, North Texas, SMU type teams that were mentioned in The Project). Add into that Fresno State and Nevada's departure, it also means that there will be no UTEP-for-Louisiana Tech swap. The WAC can no longer afford to lose any of the remaining six members as they would fail the "continuity" clause for a conference to be considered Division I (stipulating that there must be six core members who have been together at least five years).

There is, however, some potentially good news out of this. We've heard rumblings that BYU and the WAC will move forward with the football scheduling pact (if the '11 schedule remains in place, the Aggies will play in Provo next season). It's a move that makes sense because with Boise State departing after this season, all remaining eight (assuming Fresno State and Nevada aren't let off the hook) will be looking for a game to fill the vacancy left by Boise State.

Additionally, the West Coast Conference does not sponsor softball, swimming and diving or men's track and field. BYU fields all three of those sports and those sports could likely end up in the WAC. It's not unprecedented for only a single sport to be associated with a conference. The WAC already has Sacramento State in baseball and Northern Arizona in swimming and diving, those are both teams whose sole participation is in that one sport.

BYU will be holding a press conference at noon MT and you can watch the presser online (free) by registering here (we're not responsible for any solicitation e-mails that the LDS may send you after you give them your e-mail address).

Following a mere two hours after that, WAC Commissioner Karl Benson will address the media at 2:00 p.m. MT. That press conference is not publicly available though we suspect there will be a rebroadcast via WACSports.com later as there was with his press conference a couple weeks ago to address the Nevada/Fresno State departures.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

Back For More :: Aggie Women's Cross Country Team Aims For Repeat And Bid To Nationals

The Aggie women's cross country team enters the 2010 season in an unfamiliar, yet welcome position: Defending WAC champions. From a sixth place finish in 2007 to a disappointing fourth place finish in 2008 with the conference meet being held at home in Las Cruces, the Aggies erased that disappointment by winning the championship meet last year behind a one-two finish from freshmen twin sisters Courtney and Camille Schultz.

Losing just two members from that championship team from a year ago, the expectations are even higher heading into this season. Back for the 2010 campaign are the Schultz sisters along with Chelsa McDonnell and Brittany Hurtado who finished 9th and 10th respectively at the conference championship meet last season. "Chelsa's running right there with the Schultz's right now and has really raised her level of dedication and her level of expectations of herself as well," said Coach Harkins. "Brittany Hurtado had an illness this summer but is back and doing really well. I think she's is running better than she was at this point in time last year."

The Aggies have added 11 new runners on the women's side including a junior college transfer from Moorpark Community College who head coach Park Harkins expects to compete for a top five spot on the squad.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Rising Stars :: Aggie Men's Cross Country Takes Aim At A Conference Championship

To understand just how big the strides the men's cross country team has taken, you have to go back to the 2006 season, the year before head coaches Paul and Meaghan Harkins arrived at New Mexico State. "The year before we got here they only had six men on the roster," said Coach Harkins. That's six out of a possible 20 spots. Over the course of the past three seasons, the Aggies have been able to fully stock their men's roster. "Now we have 20, we're maxed out."

Expectations back then were virtually non-existent. "I remember the first year we were here when we beat Louisiana Tech on the men's side," recalled Coach Harkins. "The guys were like, "Yay! We beat one finally. And we [coaches] were like, "What? You beat one? We need to do a little more than that."

The program has grown exponentially since that first season when not finishing last place was cause for celebration. "Raising the level of expectations is what we've been trying to do and the athletes have really bought into it as well," said Coach Harkins.

No longer an afterthought at New Mexico State and no longer an afterthought in the WAC, the men's team has displayed their potential the past two seasons finishing a program-best 4th place at the WAC Championship meet last season and the year before, in 2008, winning the Arizona State Invitational, the men's team's first victory in several seasons.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Ellen Miks' Aggie Volleyball Diary :: August 30th, 2010

Ellen MiksHello Aggie Volleyball fans! What a week it has been since the last time I wrote! We got back from Florida on Sunday, and we are so glad to be back home! Dry air is much more tolerable than the humid air in Tallahassee. We went 2-1 this weekend with some key wins, but we learned A LOT about what we needed to work on in practice this week.

Everyone was so excited to go on this trip because it was the first one, but one of the not-so-great things about this trip was that we left Cruces at 4:00 on Thursday morning! It was so early that everyone just ended up falling back asleep in the vans and on the plane.

When we got there, I roomed with Dierdra Pajares and I’m glad I got to know her a little better. One thing I learned is that she talks in her sleep… I wake up one night and hear her talking to herself while she is tossing and turning. It was really funny to watch and definitely put a smile on my face!

On the last day that we were there, Jennah and I took a walk around our hotel just to experience Florida a little bit, and it was beautiful! Trees, trees, and more trees were all that we saw, along with old southern buildings. It was definitely a beautiful place to visit, and would not mind going back again!

We can’t wait to be at home this week for TWO games, on Wednesday against CSU-Bakersfield and Friday against UTEP! Until next time… GOOOOOOOOO AGGIES!  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 08/31/10

We were only half right on yesterday's WAC Player of the Week predictions, luckily we were right when it came to Yollie McMillion. She was named the WAC's Offensive Player of the Week for her four goal performance this past weekend in the Aggies' first home soccer tournament.

McMillion (who we're still searching for a cool nickname for given her penchant for scoring game-changing goals), not only leads her team in goals with five, but leads the league in goals with five, three more than teammates Heather Goldberg and Baili Foutz (who each scored two against Prairie View A&M and are now tied for second in the league) and a host of other with two goals. She also leads the league in points (players get two points for a goal, one for an assists) with 10, that's twice as many points and the next player on the list.

The Aggies will have their work cut out for them this weekend as they take on New Mexico and Northern Arizona, both very strong programs and both teams that will defend the goal a little better than Prairie View A&M did.

Aggie volleyball opens up the home schedule tomorrow night against CSU-Bakersfield. We'll Ellen Miks' latest entry in her Aggie Volleyball Diary posted later today.

We also have a new challenge for Aggie volleyball fans. The Aggies have been in the Top 15 in attendance with regularity over the past few seasons, however, after the first weekend of NCAA volleyball our rival, UNM, is THIRD in the nation in home attendance. The Lobos packed Johnson Gym this past weekend averaging 2,371 fans per match including 3,831 fans against Stanford on Sunday.

So, our challenge to you Aggie fans is to get your butts out to the Pan Am tomorrow night and Saturday night (and for the rest of the season) and show everyone which school has the best volleyball fans in the state of New Mexico.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

McMillion Earns WAC Player Of The Week Honors

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State sophomore forward Yolanda McMillion has been named WAC Offensive Player of the Week, for the week of Aug. 23-29. This is the first career honor for McMillion.

An Alamogordo, N.M. native, McMillion led the Aggie soccer team to the Hotel Encanto Aggie Classic title with the first hat trick in school history. McMillion scored three goals in NM State’s 8-0 victory against Prairie View A&M, Aug. 29. She also scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Jacksonville State, Aug. 27. For the week, McMillion posted a team-high four goals, two game-winning goals, and eight points with a .714 shots on goal percentage. She also became the first Aggie in school history to score multiple goals in a single match.

"Yolanda was great for us this weekend," head coach Michael Needham said. "She works very hard and her goals were a direct effect of that hard work."  Continue Reading This Post >>

Giddens And Brennan Named To FSU Invitational All-Tournament Team

Aggie senior outside hitter Kayleigh Giddens and junior middle hitter Kelsey Brennan were named to the 2010 FSU Invitational All-Tournament Team. The Aggies opened up the 2010 season in Tallahassee and recorded a 2-1 record in the event defeating Florida International 3-1, Florida A&M 3-0 while losing 3-1 to No. 15 Florida State.

Brennan finished with a team-high .418 hitting percentage with 29 kills. Brennan recorded 13 kills against Florida International hitting .455 for the match and added 10 kills against Florida A&M hitting .500 for the match.

Giddens led the team with 51 kills and recorded 19 kills against Florida A&M while hitting .536 on the match. Giddens also added 26 digs in the three matches including 13 against Florida International.

The Daily Aggie :: 08/30/10

The Aggie soccer team trounced Prairie View A&M on Sunday afternoon scoring a school record eight goals. Among the eight goals was a hat trick by sophomore forward Yolanda McMillion who now has a team-high five goals through three games this season. McMillion should get serious consideration for WAC Offensive Player of the Week as she scored four goals this weekend, including the game winner against Jacksonville State on Friday evening.

Be sure to check out the photos from yesterday's game as well.

Up next for the Aggies is their first trip to Albuquerque to face in-state rival New Mexico. The Lobos are 3-0-1 on the season and defeated No. 23 Marquette yesterday and could be ranked when the Aggies travel to the UNM Soccer Complex on Friday. The Aggies and Lobos have one common opponent this season and that is Montana. The Lobos destroyed the Grizzlies 7-0 in their season opener while the Aggies tied Montana 1-1 in double overtime.

The Aggie volleyball team heads into week two of their season as this week they'll host Cal State-Bakersfield and I-10 rival UTEP. The Roadrunners are 0-3 on the season losing to former Aggie assistants Phil McDaniel (Drake University) and Ashley Hardee (University of North Dakota) in 3-0 sweeps and then battling but losing a five-set match to Gonzaga at the UND Tournament this past weekend.

Kayleigh Giddens had a very strong open to the season posting matches of 18, 14 and 19 kills. Her 19 kill effort on Saturday against Florida A&M was one of, if not the best performance she's had offensively as an Aggie as she finished the match hitting .536. Her performance will get her consideration for WAC Hitter of the Week but we suspect that honor will go to Kanani Danielson of Hawai'i whose team won their opening tournament. Danielson finished the weekend with 52 kills and 35 digs and hit .316, .394 and .369 in her three matches.

Overall it was a good opening weekend for WAC volleyball. No. 5 Hawai'i had wins over No. 22 San Diego and No. 16 UCLA, the Aggies notched victories over Florida International and Florida A&M, Idaho swept Washington State and Utah State defeated Utah in Salt Lake City for the first time in 20 years.

And last but certainly not least. Welcome Back Football. The 2010 college football season gets underway this week and while the Aggies aren't in action (they open up on the 11th), Hawai'i and Idaho kick things off on Thursday night. The Warriors host USC and Idaho hosts North Dakota. The big game in the WAC's first week will take place next Monday night when Boise State travels to Washington D.C. to take on Virginia Tech and puts their national title hopes on the line.

The Aggies named team captains for the 2010 season and they are QB Matt Christian and DB Davon House.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

NM State vs. Prairie View A&M Match Photos

NM State vs. Prairie View A&M Match Photos

Aggie Soccer Blows Out Prairie View A&M Behind School Record Eight Goals

Yolanda McMillionThe New Mexico State soccer team blew past Prairie View A&M winning 8-0 on Sunday afternoon in the final match of the Hotel Encanto Aggie Classic.

The Aggies scored a school record eight goals on Sunday including a hat trick by sophomore forward Yolanda McMillion. "We allowed it to be a game for a little bit too long but that comes with maturity as you go. I think it was a pretty dominant performance in 28-4 in shots and 18-0 in corner kicks," said Coach Needham. "Any time you score eight goals you can't be unhappy."

McMillion's came via a header off a corner kick by Nina Yanes in the 32nd minute breaking a scoreless tie. After an own-goal by Prairie View A&M's Marrisa Woods (credited to Baili Foutz) gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the 35th minute, McMillion struck again in the 40th minute this time off an assist by freshman Megan Hendler. McMillion's initial shot was blocked by Panther goal keeper Melissa Aguayo, but the rebound came back to McMillion who knocked the shot into the back of the net giving the Aggies a 3-0 advantage. "She [Yolanda] stuck with the ball, the keeper made a good play on the first one but couldn't hold it and Yollie was able to slide in there and knock it in," said Coach Needham. "Those are the kind of goals she's going to have to score."  Continue Reading This Post >>