The Daily Aggie :: 09/16/10

Be sure to check out this week's interview with Aggie head soccer coach Michael Needham. Coach Needham and the Aggies host Alabama A&M and Lamar this weekend. It will be their final home games before the start of conference play (the Aggies will be on the road for the final following two weekends). Friday will also mark the first AggieVision telecast for women's soccer as Kyle Doperalski will be joined in the broadcast booth by Dave Simione, a highly regarded coach and friend of Coach Needham.

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tomorrow as well as they'll face Pepperdine at 11:30 a.m. and Texas State at 6:00 p.m. (both MT) in Tucson.

The Aggies are looking to rebound from Tuesday night's disappointing five-set loss to UNM and also end their current three match losing streak dating back to last weekend's tournament in Baton Rouge.

And of course the Aggie football team gets back on the gridiron on Saturday when they travel down to El Paso to take on the Miners. Bret Bloomquist, the Miner football beat writer, posted an interesting observation yesterday on his blog.

"It may not be worth anything but UTEP's practice Tuesday was the loudest of the year and Mike Price clearly enjoyed it. The Aggie practice seemed a bit subdued by comparison.

That may not mean anything Saturday night, or it may."

A very interesting observation indeed. He's right, it may mean something, it may mean nothing. We'll find out on Saturday night. The Aggies are treating the rivalry game on Saturday with the appropriate amount of hype (hype may not be the right word) but in our interview with Coach Walker this week we asked about how he was preparing his team for the rivalry game and he said, "I think from a rivalry standpoint, our kids get it. They know what rivalries are all about. We'll talk a little bit about the rivalry today and then we'll leave it alone."

That was on Tuesday. Yes it's a rivalry game, but at the end of day, you don't get an extra win or an extra loss just because it's a rivalry game. It still counts the same in the win-loss column.

Also of note, Bret Bloomquist reported in this morning's El Paso Times that the Miners closed practice on Wednesday, something that rarely happens. There was some mention about trick plays and the wishbone (trick plays, we can buy that, the wishbone, not so much).

We'll see how it all plays out on Saturday night.

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bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Needham interview :: 09/15/10

bleedCrimson.net: You mentioned on Friday night after the game that you were going to be getting back to basics this week in practice, how has that been going?
Michael Needham: It's been good. We addressed some things from the games last week that we needed to do better, from the North Dakota and Northern Arizona game before that. Our kids came out and responded. We gave them two days off after North Dakota and the last two days of training have been exactly what and where we needed to be.

I think the biggest things that we addressed were competing all over the field and a willingness to do the hard work, getting up in the air and winning balls in the air, win knockdowns and second balls and really commit to doing that. So in the last two days it's been a lot of hard work and training but the kids have stepped up and gotten it done and we're looking forward to playing another team.

bc.net: Friday night you take on Alabama A&M who has struggled a little bit this season.
MN: It'll be a fun night. That'll be our first AggieVision game and the kids are excited about playing on t.v. and that part. Really at this point in the year we're worried about what we do, not what the other team does. We're going to look to put together a pretty complete performance from first minute to 90th minute. To this point we've put together at times 60 to 75 minutes but I think this one will be a collective effort for 90 minutes.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 09/15/10

The Aggie volleyball team suffered their third consecutive loss last night as they fell in five sets to in-state rival New Mexico. The Aggies led the match 2-1 but lost the next two sets 25-17 and 15-7. Kelsey Brennan had a strong night for the Aggies finishing with 12 kills on 21 swings with no hitting errors, a service ace, three block assists, two solo blocks and five digs, however, the Aggies weren't able to get her the ball enough according to head coach Mike Jordan. Coach Jordan referenced the team's inability to pass the ball well enough as the major contributor to the Aggies' loss.

One random statistic from last night (and one that likely has zero bearing on the outcome of the match) was the fact that the team that won the first point in each set went on to lose that set.

One other interesting statistic from last night's match is that the Aggies outblocked UNM 13-4 and each team committed 26 errors. That means that the Aggies committed 22 unforced errors (ball hit outside the boundaries, into the net, into the antenna) while UNM committed just 13. For the most part when there's that big a disparity in blocking, the team on the plus side of the blocking statistic is the team that comes out the victor, however, last night was not the case, again in large part due to the Aggies' trouble passing serve receive, particularly in the fifth set during the Lobos' 7-0 run after the Aggies had taken a 2-0 lead to start the set.

Unlike the Aggies' five set loss to LSU on Saturday night, this was not a loss that the Aggies can feel good about.

The Aggies will look to bounce back from three consecutive losses when they head to Tucson on Friday and Saturday for the Arizona Invitational. The Aggies will face Pepperdine and Texas State on Friday and Arizona on Saturday.

The Aggie football team returns to action on Saturday night when they travel down to El Paso for the Battle of I-10 (now presented by Sonic).

Be sure to check out this week's interview with Coach Walker. We mainly discussed last week's season opener with Coach Walker and briefly touched on the team's injury situation (Sioeli Fakalata is out for Saturday's game).

Adrian Mac of MinerRush.com reports that UTEP running back Donald Buckram's knee has seen the swelling decrease and he will start making cuts this week in practice. Buckram is the team's best running back and has missed the first two games of the season after going down with the knee injury right before the start of the season. The Miners had just 100 yards on the ground last week against Houston, their rushing numbers looked a lot like the Aggies' numbers against San Diego State.

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bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Walker Interview :: 09/14/10

bleedCrimson.net: Now that you've had a couple of days to go over game film what are your thoughts on the first game against San Diego State?
DeWayne Walker: When you're not involved in a blowout you're always going to feel like you let one slip away. By no means was this a blowout game. We were in it all the way to about the six minute mark. We just felt like we weren't ready enough in game one to overcome some mistakes that are critical and really to have a chance to beat an improved San Diego State team. We know where we are right now and we're back and trying to create another game plan to beat UTEP.

There were a lot of positives to be honest with you. We had a lot of new players on both sides of the ball. I've said it all along, I know we're a better football team, there's no question about that. We've just got to get out and play and see where we are. It was good to see that we've improved in some areas but it's also good to see that we are a better football team.

bc.net: As you mentioned, the Aggies were still in the game late in the fourth quarter, that's got to be very positive for you considering that wasn't a situation that your team was in very much toward the end of the last season.
DW: Yeah. It's very gratifying to see that if you get a couple stops on defense or if you're able to maybe to score a touchdown or two in the second quarter, which we kind of sputtered offensively, if you could pick a couple of situations and flip it, you've really got a chance to win the football game. I think that would have been very positive for our program. But at the same token, we're still building this program and we're better. That's just something that you feel good about but at the same time you want to start winning games too and hopefully we can keep building this thing up and get a win this week.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggie Volleyball Falls In Five To Lobos

Kelsey BrennanThe Aggie volleyball team dropped a tough five-set match to in-state rival New Mexico on Tuesday evening in Albuquerque. The Aggies won the first set 25-20 but dropped the second set 25-16. NM State rebounded to take set three 25-21 but fell 25-17 and 15-7 in the final two sets. It's the second consecutive loss to the Lobos in the Rio Grande Rivalry after the Aggies dominated the series winning 10 straight. "Give credit to UNM, they're a great team and they played well on their home court," said head coach Mike Jordan after the match. "I'm disappointed with our ball handing. We got aced too many times and passed the ball too bad to beat a good team. When we were in system we were tough but obviously that didn't happen enough."

Set one saw the Lobos jump out to a 3-0 on three kills by three different Lobos. The Aggies would get on the board behind a Kayleigh Giddens kill cutting the lead to 3-1. The Lobos would take a 5-2 lead on Ellen Miks' first service error of the season, however, the Aggies would rally to take the next three points as kills by Whitney Woods and Kelsey Brennan would be followed by a hitting error by Rachel Barber. The Aggies would take a 10-7 lead on back-to-back kills by Kayleigh Giddens however, the Lobos would tie the set 10-10. The Aggies would take a 14-11 lead after a service ace by Kayleigh Giddens, however, after back-to-back hitting errors by freshman Rocio Gutierrez the Aggies would lead by just two at 16-14.

The Lobos would tied the set at 16-16 after an attack error by Whitney Woods. THe Aggies would win the next point as Whitney Woods and Kelsey Brennan would block UNM's Kelly Williamson, however, the Lobos would go back to Williamson who would get a kill to tie the set at 17-17. The two teams would remain tied at 18 apiece, however, the Aggies would take the next two points as Kelsey Brennan would record a kill and Desiree Scott would record a solo block against UNM's Taylor Hadfield. The Aggies would extend the lead to three at 22-19 on a kill by Whitney Woods forcing the Lobos to take a timeout. The Aggies would take a 23-19 lead as Lisa Meeter's attack would find the net. After a Taylor Hadfield attack error would give the Aggies their first set point, Hadfield would record a kill to make the score 24-20. Whitney Woods would end the set on the next point with a kill giving the Aggies a 25-20 set victory.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 09/14/10

The Aggie volleyball heads north to Albuquerque today to take on in-state rival New Mexico. The Aggies are looking to begin a new winning streak against the Lobos after having their 10-match streak snapped last season via a 3-0 sweep in the Pan Am by the Lobos.

The Lobos are 4-5 on the season, however, three of those losses have come at the hands of Top 10 teams (Stanford, USC and Hawai'i). Offensively they're led by middle blocker Taylor Hadfield and outside hitters Kelly Williamson and Lisa Meeter. Hadfield has recorded 103 kills on the season, Williamson has recorded 102 and Lisa Meeter has recorded 96.

The Lobos are averaging 2.33 blocks per set while the Aggies are averaging 1.92 blocks per set. Allison Buck leads the Lobos in digs per set at 3.91 while Ellen Miks leads the Aggies in digs at 3.84 digs per set.

Despite having lost their last two matches in a row, the Aggies are actually heading to Albuquerque with some significant momentum coming off their near upset of No. 21 LSU.

If you read Ellen Miks' latest entry in her Aggie Volleyball Diary this week, she notes that despite the loss, the team learned that they have what it takes to be a great team.

Tonight's match is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. first serve at Johnson Gym. The match can be heard in Las Cruces on KSNM AM 570 with Kyle Doperalski calling the action. Streaming audio will be available via Aggie Access (subscription required). Streaming video (subscription required) and Live Stats for tonight's match will be available via the UNM athletic website. We will also be posting scoring updates via Twitter (follow us: @AgsBleedCrimson)

Announced last night, the WAC has filed suit against Fresno State and Nevada in order to try to force them to remain in the WAC through the end of the 2011-2012 athletic season. Commissioner Benson held a press conference this morning to address the lawsuit.

The most interesting thing out of the press conference this morning is the Commissioner Benson has spoken with BCS representatives and has been informed that because the WAC is named in all of the BCS contracts (we believe those contracts go through the 2014 season) that regardless the number of members in the WAC, the conference will still be considered a member of the five non-coalition conferences and will receive the BCS payouts that normally go to the five non-coalition conferences. Good news for all of the remaining WAC schools.

Also, the new membership committee (comprised of the six remaining schools) has had a pair of conference calls since its formation and will meet in person on Tuesday, September 27th in Dallas.

Benson also mentioned that the WAC's timeline for membership addition has not changed, even in light the moves by UC-Davis and Cal Poly, two schools that had been mentioned as prospective football members, to the Big Sky.

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Ellen Miks' Aggie Volleyball Diary :: September 13th, 2010

Ellen MiksHello Aggie volleyball fans! What an exciting week for the volleyball program! We just got back from LSU and some of the boosters were there to greet us at the Pan Am! I am so thankful that we have such a great support system, and I truly believe that our boosters are the BEST!

About the tournament… We played well against Rice and defeated them in three, played sub-par against North Carolina and lost in three, and then we played the #21 team in the nation, Louisiana State. We dropped the first set, but once we got our nerves out we began to play better and better as the match progressed. We lost games one and two, then rallied back to win games three and four! It was honestly the most fun I have ever had playing volleyball!

We were serving tough, digging balls, hitting hard… everyone was so into the game, so focused, and so intent on winning that we all came together and played great volleyball. Unfortunately, we lost the fifth set 17-15 but we learned that we have what it takes to be a great volleyball team!  Continue Reading This Post >>

AggieVision :: Aggie Academy :: Strength And Conditioning Techniques

Mikaela Bitner Named WAC Defensive Player Of The Week

DENVER, CO - New Mexico State’s Mikaela Bitner has been named the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the week of September 6th-12th.

Bitner, a redshirt freshman goalkeeper from Albuquerque, N.M. (Sandia HS), anchored the NM State defense in a 1-0 shutout victory over North Dakota on Friday night. "She deserves it, she's done an outstanding job for us in the goal," said head coach Michael Needham. "She's made some really big saves at big times for us and all-in-all she's done an exceptional job to this point."

Bitner recorded a season-high nine saves in the game against the Fighting Sioux and on the season has .892 save percentage and is allowing 0.72 goals per game en route to helping the Aggies post a 3-1-2 record through six games in the 2010 season.

This is the first Player of the Week award for Bitner and the second of the 2010 season for the Aggies as Yolanda McMillion was named Offensive Player of the Week last week.

The Daily Aggie :: 09/13/10

It's rivalry week part two as the Aggie football team will face UTEP on Saturday night and the Aggie volleyball team will face in-state rival UNM tomorrow night in Albuquerque.

The Aggie football team will look to get back on track defensively against a pretty potent Miner offense. It will be interesting to see how the defense handles the run/pass ability of Miner quarterback Trevor Vittatoe. It will give them a good test before they face Nevada dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick (who is also a much better runner than Vittatoe).

Saturday's game could be a breakout game for the Aggie offense. UTEP was shredded by the Houston offense, and while the Aggies are certainly not at the level offensively that Houston is at right now, the Cougar running game was incredibly effective against the Miners, something that should have Aggie running backs Seth Smith and Kenny Turner licking their chops after the less than stellar night the two backs had on Saturday against San Diego State.

One major injury note for the Miners, safety Braxton Amy is likely done for the season with a torn ACL according to Adrian Mac at MinerDigs.com. The loss of Amy for the Miners is akin to if the Aggies were to lose Davon House for the season. Not only one of the best players on the field, but also a leader on the field as well. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Braxton Amy.

The Aggie volleyball team will look to extract some revenge tomorrow night when they travel to Albuquerque to take on UNM. The Lobos ended the Aggies' lengthy winning streak in the series last season when they completed a stunning sweep in the Pan Am.

One other volleyball note, Ellen Miks' 31 digs against No. 21 LSU put her in exclusive company in the Aggie record books as she joins the 30-dig club at New Mexico State. A player has had 30-plus digs only four other times in a five-set match. Krystal Torres did it three of those times, coincidentally she also had 31 digs against LSU the last time these two teams met back in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Interestingly enough, there have actually been more 30-plus dig matches by an Aggie in four set matches (at least five, all by different players, Vanesa White, Briana Akrie, Maria Rothe, Lisa Roberson and Jordan Bostic) than there have been in five set matches. And, no Aggie has been able to pull off a 30-dig performance in a three set match, though Krstyal Torres ('07) and Briana Akrie ('04) each came close with 28 digs.

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