August 27th, 2013
By: Marco Torres
A new season in a new conference is on the horizon, and with it comes unanswered questions for the Lady Bronc volleyball team.
One of the team’s former players, Michelle McNamee, who led in kills with 243 and total attempts with 886, transferred to the University of Louisiana-Monroe in January. Her departure left UTPA searching for a new face to step up and take the reins of the team and lead it into the Western Athletic Conference.
In total, Lady Broncs lost four players and Assistant Coach Margot Frederick, now at Loyola University in New Orleans, from last year’s team that went 10-19 and set an attendance record of 5,109 fans in eight matches, beating the old record of 3,266. Sarah Davis, Ijanae Holeman, Juri Franzen, along with McNamee, are gone, but Coach Brian Yale has added six new incoming faces.
“In addition, we have a talented group of incoming players that will be expected to contribute as well,” Yale said.
Three of the new players are transfers and the others are from the high school ranks. Yale got a couple of transfers from Panola College in Carthage, in East Texas. Nausheen Merchant, slated to be Franzen’s replacement at libero, was named Libero of the Year in the Region XIV North Conference as a sophomore after averaging about five digs per game during conference play. She was also first team All-Conference after receiving second team honors her freshman year.
Her Panola teammate Angelica Vargas will be joining her at the University as a defensive specialist who earned honorable mention after placing second on the team in digs with 81.
But it takes more than talent to win on the collegiate level and beyond. The veterans will have to come through for the Lady Broncs, who start the season Aug. 30 at the Houston Baptist Tournament.
Setter Nycole Masaki is the only returning senior, in her second year with the team. She will have to bring her experience and team-leading 955 assists from last season to a new conference and different teammates. But she is not alone, she will have help from eight returning teammates.
Maria Kliefoth, middle blocker who will enter her fourth season at UTPA, and three-year veterans Krysta Freitas (right side,outside hitter), Diara Reynolds (outsider hitter) and Macey Singleton (a defensive specialist) are going to be the catalysts.
“This is the first time that our roster is not dominated by freshmen and sophomores,” Yale said. “Our roster is larger this season, which provides us more depth at each position, so I expect our practices will be more competitive than the past.”
With the roster loaded with experience, the Lady Broncs have a set of athletes that will work in the next couple of weeks to increase the skills and talent level of the team.
“As with any year, we will continue to ask and expect more from our returners,” said Yale, who is in his third year at UTPA. “But each player will be expected to set higher goals and work to expand their role, or compete to change it altogether if they’re looking for more.”
In mid-July the Lady Broncs and coaching staff finished a week of practice with current high school and junior high volleyball athletes to sharpen their skills. The volleyball camp provided the women the opportunity to teach younger generations some skills and hone their own, along with improving their overall game.
“It’s time to take some big steps and generate some signature wins,” Yale said. “We must show that we’ve gained maturity as well as experience over the past two seasons.”
The Lady Broncs have one senior, six juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. According to Yale, recruits from afar are seeing the progress of the program and are excited about being a part of it.
“Going forward, we’ve received multiple future commitments from players that will excite the fans for years to come,” Yale said.
Having been admitted into a new conference brings the challenge to qualify for the conference tournament. According to Yale, they need to qualify for the WAC tournament each and every year.
There are a total of nine teams in the WAC conference: Cal State-Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, Idaho, Missouri-Kansas City, New Mexico State, Seattle University, Utah Valley and UTPA. The first WAC conference game is Sept. 28 at home against the defending WAC conference champion, New Mexico State.
The Lady Aggies beat Idaho in last season’s WAC Conference tournament finals.
“Getting into the conference tournament and competing for the WAC Championship also allows us to then think bigger than the WAC,” Yale said. “It gives us that opportunity to go earn the right to compete in the NCAA Tournament.”
The coach stated he is “excited about the future of this program.” But he knows that the WAC is going to be a tough conference to compete in.
“It is an extremely competitive volleyball conference with some long established teams,” he said. “It will be great to be playing top-notch competition each and every night we step on the floor.
August 11th, 2013
The University volleyball team announced Thursday that Ashlie Christenson will be the new assistant volleyball coach. She graduated from Baylor University as one of the top outside hitters in the school’s history.
Christenson is welcomed to UTPA after two seasons as an assistant coach at Hill College in Hillsboro, Tx. She also played professionally for the Ljungby Volleyball Klub in Sweden during her off-season.
Her responsibilities will include working with the Bronc’s outside hitters, recruiting and organizing summer youth camps for the University.
“I am excited to welcome Ashlie to the Broncs volleyball program. I have known her since her high school playing days, as she was someone I heavily recruited prior to her Baylor commitment,” Head Coach Brian Yale said. “She is a person of high character and someone that I think will be a great fit with the current needs of our program.
A four-year starter at Baylor, Christenson ranks 10th in Baylor history in kills and fifth since rally scoring began (2001-present) with 1,145. She also ranks ninth overall and fourth since rally scoring began in total attempts with 3,325.
She lead the Bears to the Sweet 16 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament in 2009 and set a program NCAA Tournament record for highest attacking percentage in a three-set match with a perfect 1.000 (8-0-16), against Georgia Tech.
Christenson graduated from Baylor in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences after majoring in fashion merchandising.
“Coach Yale recruited me back in high school when he was at Stephen F. Austin. He has a very appealing coaching style and I know I will learn a lot from him,” Christenson said. “I had the opportunity to meet a few of the girls during my interview and can not wait to get in the gym with them. They seem level headed, goal driven, and ready to make huge strides.”
March 28th, 2013
- Swept Arlington Baptist University March 22-23, winning the three-game series 10-0, 11-1, 15-3 at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium
- College Sports Madness named senior Derek Hagy Madness Great West Baseball Player of the Week Tuesday
- Next home game March 30 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. against Jackson State University (DH)
- Placed 16th of 17 at the University of Cincinnati Women’s Spring Invitational in Florida March 22-24 with 665 strokes
- Beat University of the Incarnate Word March 23, 7-0 at the Orville Cox Center
- Beat Prairie View A&M University March 23, 7-0 at the Orville Cox Center
- Lost to University of New Orleans March 25, 4-3 at the Orville Cox Center
- Southland Conference named freshman Thomas-Orestis Panoulas Southland Conference Player of Week Tuesday after he went 3-0 last week
- Final home match April 3 at 3 p.m. against University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- Beat Prairie View A&M University March 23, 5-2 in their final home match of the season at the Orville Cox Center
Men’s Track and Field
- Finished 9th of 22 at the 31st Annual Victor Lopez Classic March 22-23 in Houston
- Senior Andy Lopez won the Men’s 800-Meter Run with a time of 1:50.18
- Junior Dijan Johnson placed second in the Men’s 400-Meter Hurdles with a time of 57.77
Women’s Track and Field
- Finished 20th of 21 at the 31st Annual Victor Lopez Classic March 22-23 in Houston
- Will host a UTPA Tournament, part of the off-season spring schedule, April 6
November 19th, 2012
The UTPA Bronc volleyball team lost the Great West Conference Semifinal game against second-seeded and host Utah Valley University 3-0 Friday. The Wolverines would go on to beat Houston Baptist University for the Conference title.
The Great West Conference spokesperson announced Saturday that Diara Reynolds was named part of the all-GWC Tournament team for her performance against UVU. Reynolds had a team-high eight kills and career-high and match-high tying four blocks in the semifinal loss.
At Friday night’s game senior Juri Franzen recorded 12 digs and junior Nycole Masaki had 20 assists.
Both Franzen and Masaki were named members of the All-Great West Conference Second Team and Masaki and Haley Durham were named part of the All-Great West Conference Newcomer Team, as voted by Conference Head Coaches.
November 7th, 2012
by Jordan Gonzalez
The UTPA Bronc volleyball team lost the last home game of the season against New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders Monday night.
Early in the game the Broncs took a lead of 19-12 and managed to win the first set 25-22.
The Broncs continued to play well into the second set taking an 11-4 lead, but the Highlanders answered with a 13-1 run and eventually won the set 25-20.
Down in the third set 23-19, the Broncs attempted to mount a comeback but lost after getting as close as 24-23. The Highlanders got the match point to win the set.
Tied in the middle of the fourth set 10-10, the Broncs went on a 9-2 run that helped them win the set 25-23.
The Broncs took the lead in the fifth set 4-0, but the Highlanders came back, winning the set 15-12.
Juri Franzen tied the UTPA Bronc volleyball record for 20+ digs matches with 15. Michelle McNamee led the Broncs with 16 kills. Diara Reynolds had a double-double of 13 kills and 11 digs. Nycole Masake recorded a match-high 51 kills.
The Broncs are looking to comeback from their loss when they visit Chicago State University on Thursday 7 p.m.
October 29th, 2012
The University of Texas- Pan American Broncs volleyball team dropped Saturday’s match to Utah Valley University, their second consecutive conference loss.
The Wolverines swept the Broncs 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-15).
The Broncs (9-15, 2-3 GWC) were led by Diara Reynolds with nine kills. Krysta Freitas had a match-high 13 digs, while Nycole masaki recorded 26 assists and Sarah Davis had a team-high three blocks.
October 8th, 2012
The UTPA Broncs volleyball team broke their five-game winning record, losing against Utah Valley University Thursday night and Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon Saturday.
The Broncs took the first two sets against the Great West Conference pre-season favorites UVU, 27-25 and 25-23.
The third set was tied at 23-23, just like the previous two, until the Wolverines took the set at 25-23.
Trailing 20-12 in the fourth set, the Broncs went on a 9-0 run to take the lead 21-20. After a UVU timeout the Wolverines got back into the groove as they won the set 25-21.
Down early in the last set, the Broncs closed the lead at 10-9, but the Wolverines got a 5-1 run to finish the set 15-10.
Diara Reynolds had a match-high 16 kills, while Krysta Freitas had 13 kills and 17 digs for a double-double. Michelle McNamee and Nycole Masaki also had double-doubles. McNamee had 10 kills and 18 digs and Masaki had 48 assists and 15 digs. Juri Franzen had 35 digs.
The Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon swept the Lady Broncs, winning the match 3-0.
The Tigrillas took the sets 25-20, 26-24 and 25-18.
McNamee led the Broncs with nine kills. Haley Durham followed with six kills and a team-high .308 hitting percentage. Sarah Davis had a match-high six blocks and four kills.
Making her first start, Kasey Sanchez from San Benito had four kills, 10 digs, two blocks and one assist.
The Broncs (8-11, 1-1 GWC) will continue their regular season Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the UTPA Fieldhouse against Texas A&M University- Kingsville.
October 4th, 2012
The University’s volleyball program has recently been placed in the spotlight, and with good reason. Not only are the Broncs on a five-game winning streak, the first since 2003, but if 656 people attend what could be a nail-biter against Utah Valley tonight, the 17-year-old program record for attendance in a single season will fall.
In an attempt to draw bigger crowds, the entire season will continue to be free in regard to admission for anyone wishing to support the Broncs. The home opener against Texas A&M- Corpus Christi Aug. 28 brought in over 1,200 people. The following two home games attracted more than 1,400 attendees combined.
“I think it’s really attributed more to our coaches and athletes, as well as the student body,” Athletic Director Chris King said. “The majority of the fans that are coming out are part of the
President Robert Nelsen and the University administration have stressed that there is student life on campus, King explains. Students have the opportunity to partake in many events
“I don’t think it’s just any one thing, I think it’s a culmination of a lot of efforts and a lot of people and the students really buying into athletics and the direction we’re going,” he added.
The large crowds are something even other Athletic Directors and universities are noticing. It’s something King, who became AD in 2009,
is proud of.
“It’s really, really neat to watch going from here up to here,” said the former University of Alabama AD about attendance, demonstrating the difference with a foot separating his right hand from his left. “I go in there after five minutes into the match, take a photo and tweet it.
There’s a lot of people, a lot of ADs, that tweet me back or text me back: ‘How are you getting a thousand people to a volleyball match?’”
According to King, volleyball is UTPA’s football, the major fall sport that sets the tone for the following sports.
“The excitement level for volleyball really creates that excitement on campus as we get into basketball season,” King said. “When you have football, and sometimes soccer, a lot of times, those sports will lead into basketball, (which will) lead into baseball.”
Although fans usually only have one side of bleachers to cheer from, tonight’s game will offer both sides to attendees. The second set of bleachers will be ready in preparation for Saturday’s open practice for the Houston Rockets, which is expected to draw a large crowd. King hopes enough people will be interested in the tough match against Utah Valley University, defending Great West Conference champion and pre-season favorite.
“We were so close to winning that game,” King said about the heartbreaking loss Sept. 15 to the University of Texas at Brownsville, the NAIA champ.
“We probably won’t face another team as good as them this year, including UVU,” King said. “If they play the way they did against UTB, we’ll knock off UVU. They’re beatable and we’ve got the team that can beat them.”
September 29th, 2012
The Lady Broncs volleyball team is on a five-game winning streak, taking the first match of the Great West Conference against New Jersey Institute of Technology, 3-1.
The Broncs (8-10, 1-0 GWC) lost the first set to the NJIT Highlanders, 25-17. After leading the second set at 13-12, the Broncs went on a 9-2 run (22-14), and ultimately won the set 25-16. Dominating since the beginning of the third set, the Broncs won 25-16.
Although the Higlanders took the lead in the fourth at 6-1, the Broncs responded with a 13-7 run, to take a 14-13 lead. Both teams battled back and forth until the Broncs were finally able to finish 27-25.
This is the first time the Broncs volleyball team has managed five straight wins since 2003.
The Broncs will attempt to pull an upset on Utah Valley University, GWC regular season champion, Oct. 4 in the Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m.