Aggie Volleyball Swept By No. 6 Hawai'i

Kayleigh GiddensThe Aggie volleyball was swept 3-0 by the visiting No. 6 Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine on Wednesday night in the Pan American Center. The Aggies played close with the Wahine in the first set before Hawai'i pulled away winning the first set 25-16. The Wahine would win the next two sets by identical scores of 25-14. Hawai'i sophomore middle blocker Brittany Hewitt dominated the Aggies finishing with 11 kills on 12 swings hitting .917 breaking the Hawai'i school record for hitting percentage of .867. Hewitt also caused problems for the Aggie blockers as she finished with five block assists as the Aggies were outblocked 7-0. "Give Hawai'i all the credit in the world, they're doing what they need to do. Just 10 attack errors in three games, we didn't block a dang ball the whole time." said head coach Mike Jordan after the match.

The Aggies started off strong against the Wahine as they lead early 5-4 after a kill by freshman outside hitter Amanda Tonga. The two teams would trade the lead back and forth with Hawai'i holding a slim 11-0 lead after a kill by Whitney Woods. The Wahine would go ahead 15-12 on a service error by freshman Rocio Gutierrez but the Aggies would pull to within two at 15-13 on a kill by Kayleigh Giddens. The Wahine took a four point lead at 18-14 on a kill from Kanani Danielson but the Aggies would respond by cutting the lead to two points at 18-16 on a kill by Whitney Woods and an attack error from Kanani Danielson. However, the Wahine would buckle down and score the set's final seven points to take a 25-16 set victory.

"We played really well in the beginning of games for the most part except for game three and were point for point for a little while and then they'd go on a run and we'd cave in," said Coach Jordan.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 09/29/10

It's gameday for the Aggie volleyball team as they host No. 6 Hawai'i tonight in the Pan Am. The match will be televised live on ESPNU as part of ESPNU's volleyball doubleheader tonight. The Aggies are the only school in the current WAC to have beaten Hawai'i more than once. Utah State is the only other school to have even beaten the Wahine.

We actually had a chance to watch the Wahine play in person last week against Utah State and then again on television the next night when they hosted Nevada. We came away from those two matches with a couple of observations. First, the Wahine are very good defensively. So good in fact that Coach Jordan calls them one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Wahine have this innate ability to save balls that look like they are dead, play over, point for the opposing team. We witnessed four or five long rallies that looked like Utah State had won the point, including one where the UtAgs started celebrating. Their celebration was premature because somehow Hawai'i saved the ball and kept the rally going eventually winning the point. Those kind of long rallies can be real momentum builders for either side. Against Nevada the next night, the two teams had a rally that saw 56 touches with the ball crossing the net 65 times (Nevada won the point). Think about that one for a second.

The other observation we came away with is that Hawai'i is absolutely beatable tonight. It will take a very high-level effort from the Aggies but it can happen. Hawai'i, as Coach Jordan told us this week, is not infallible. Utah State went on an 8-0 run against the Wahine the first set, one that saw them go from a 16-9 deficit to a 17-16 lead (they would lose the set however, 26-24). Utah State and Nevada both had four service aces in their matches against the Wahine as well as a few tough serves that resulted in some bad passes by the Wahine.

The Wahine don't serve it as tough as they did last season in our opinion (obviously based off a much smaller sample set). They're averaging 1.49 service aces per set. Last season they were averaging 1.7 service aces per set. The Aggies themselves are averaging 1.23 service aces per set. Hawai'i is also averaging 2.19 service errors per set versus 1.78 last season. Basically all that means that there are few aces and a few more service errors being committed by the Wahine this year.

Obviously the keys tonight for the Aggies will be to serve tough and pass well. Those are the keys to every match. The Aggies have had some trouble passing this season on serve receive but hopefully the recent addition of Kelsi Phillips will help shore that weakness up. The Aggie defense also has to be ready to dig some bombs on attacks by Kanani Danielson, Brittany Hewitt, Emily Hartong and Chantele Satele (who can absolutely "crush the coconut" as they say in Hawai'i).

Individually there are some intriguing battles to watch tonight. UH's Kanani Danielson and the Aggies' Kayleigh Giddens are the two best outside hitters in the league. Brittany Hewitt is one of the best middles in the league while Kelsey Brennan (when 100 percent healthy) is also one of the best middles in the league. St. Mary's transfer Chantele Satele is a huge presence on the right side for Hawai'i while Whitney Woods provides a similar presence on the right for the Aggies. The two setters are also two of the best in the league in Jennah DeVries and UH's Dani Mafua.

The Wahine are beatable, they're on the road for the first time this season and it will be interesting to see what the Aggie coaching staff dials up tonight strategically.

Again, the match will be televised on ESPNU and is set for an 8:00 p.m. first serve. If you don't have ESPU, the match can also be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required). If you're in Las Cruces, you need to be at the match. There is a night and day difference between attending a volleyball match with 1,200 fans and attending a volleyball match with 4,000-plus fans and it would be great to see Aggie fans break the 7,000-plus attendance record from 2005.

Also, during tonight's match the Aggie women's basketball team will be honored for their WNIT appearance last season.

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

Ellen Miks' Aggie Volleyball Diary :: September 28th, 2010

Ellen MiksHello Aggie volleyball fans! We are finally back home!! After a month of being on the road, we are finally back in Las Cruces! It was great to see everyone at the Pan Am on Saturday at our game against Louisiana Tech. Thanks to all of our fans that came, there was a great showing!

Our team is slowly healing and starting to get their legs back after a long pre-season. Kelsey Brennan is back from an ankle injury, and Steph’s leg is healing every day. She is now able to put some pressure on it, which is improvement! She says that she will hopefully be able to walk without crutches in two weeks!! So exciting!!

There’s a new trend on our team… it seems as though everyone has shown up to practice within the past week with a different hair color than they had the day before. On our team, Desire, Amanda, Shelby, Dierdra, Michelle, Maddy, and Liana have all changed their hair colors! This whole year only four of us on the roster have not dyed our hair. Just a fun little fact… Girls will be girls :]

We have two BIG games coming up this week- Hawaii and Arizona. We play Hawaii on Wednesday, which will be aired on ESPNU, followed by a game on Sunday against Arizona. We hope y’all can come support us against two very great teams! Until next time… GOOOOOOOOO AGGIES!  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Walker Interview :: 09/28/10 Talk a little bit more about your decision to turn your defensive play calling duties over to Coach Lindsey.
DeWayne Walker: I just think it's time for me to be the head coach. I know that with the state of our team right now I think it was more important for me to spend more time trying to round this team the way that I want it moreso than spread myself thin by calling to call defenses, trying to be the head coach, trying to be an administrator.

It was starting to wear on me a little bit because I'm really competitive and I just felt like I'm really "Jack of all trades, master of none" to that degree and I just want to spend more time and sit down and really build this program the right way. I just felt like I had too much on my plate to do it the right way. Was this something that you'd been thinking about for a while?
DW: Yeah. Probably moreso this season. Last season I was kind of like the energizer bunny, I was running around doing everything which was still stressful for me last year because there was a lot of stuff going on but I got through it. I just felt like I couldn't continue to do it that way and really be who I was hired to be. It's important for me to be around the offensive players and special teams and be able to critique the coaches, the offensive coaches just as I was critiquing being around the defensive coaches. I just felt like that would give more support to this football team versus being one sided to a certain degree.  Continue Reading This Post >>

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/28/10

The Aggie volleyball team hosts No. 6 Hawai'i tomorrow, the Wahine are no longer No. 5, apparently winning two matches via sweep in the WAC is cause for a one spot drop in the polls even though one of those sweeps came against a very very good Utah State squad.

The Wahine will be making their very first road trip of the season and it was pointed out by one of the Hawai'i beat writers that the trip to the mainland to face the Aggies and Louisiana Tech is flipped this season. Usually Hawai'i faces Louisiana Tech first, then travels back westward to face the Aggies. Will this make a difference? It could.

Traveling east is always a little easier than traveling west in our opinion. For the Wahine, an 8:00 p.m. match time is like playing at 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon in Honolulu. However, when the tables are turned, a 7:00 p.m. match time in Honolulu is the equivalent to an 11:00 p.m. match time in Las Cruces.

Given that the Aggie/Wahine match is first up on the slate, perhaps the Wahine will still be a little worn out from the travel to the mainland. As anyone who flies regularly for work knows, travel days are never any fun and even though you're just sitting on a plane doing nothing, it tends to wear you out.

Whether or not that will be the case with the Wahine tomorrow night, we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, check out our interview this week with Aggie head volleyball coach Mike Jordan.

Aggie head football coach DeWayne Walker announced this morning that he is turning over the defensive playcalling duties to linebacker coach Dale Lindsey in order to put more focus on both sides of the ball.

We'll try to get more from Coach Walker on his decision today when we speak with him for this week's interview.

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Walker To Focus On Team Responsibilities; Dale Lindsey Takes Over Defensive Play Calling

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State head football coach DeWayne Walker announced Tuesday at the team’s weekly press conference that he has shifted defensive play calling responsibilities to linebacker coach Dale Lindsey in an effort to allow him to focus more on the team as a whole.

Walker said he needs to make sure that his voice is heard on both sides of the ball and this will give him the opportunity to continue to build the program in the right direction.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 09/27/10 Your thoughts on Kayleigh Giddens' play last weekend.
Mike Jordan: Kayleigh played well obviously. She's really attacking the ball well at a high level and overmatched Louisiana Tech physically. We're happy she's playing so well and hopefully she'll continue to put up those kind of numbers against everybody. Your thoughts on the match against Hawai'i on Wednesday night?
MJ: They're a tremendous team and they're ranked 5th for a reason. They've got a lot of weapons and ball control is probably their strength as it always is. Year in and year out they're one of the best digging teams in the country if not the best and they can frustrate you. We'll go bomb a ball and it'll come back and we'll go bomb another ball and it'll come back and we try and do too much and make an attack error. That's kind of been the M.O. for our matches with them. When we've beaten them we've been a very good blocking team that's frustrated them. We've blocked enough balls to kind of get in their head and force them into taking more risks and making them make some attack errors.

It's going to be one of those matches where we're going to have to win some long rallies and right now digging is not the strong suit of our team but we've got the offensive weapons to compete for sure and hopefully the home crowd will be worth a couple of points.  Continue Reading This Post >>