Wed Sep 30th, 2015
Special to the Drum
Lack of height, lack of hype … lack of hope, usually, to be more than just a back-row player.
In the realm of college volleyball, that’s often how it goes for undersized, overlooked talent, but those willing to wear the blue-collar L/DS (libero/defensive specialist) roster designation proudly often become invaluable stones upon which rock-solid defense is built.
That was Angela Herrera at Ignacio High School once, and – as the 21st and last lady presently shown on the roster – now again at NCAA Division II New Mexico Highlands University. Part of head coach Bryan Crawford’s seven-recruit Class of 2015 and currently listed as a redshirt-freshman, Herrera is one of four billed at 5’2”, and the three ahead of her on the squad should make for solid mentors.
Senior L/DS Miranda Arredondo, currently No. 2 on the Cowgirls’ digs chart, is the barometer, while true freshmen Bryanna Lopez and Jaselynn Sanchez both come from established large-school, in-state programs (Lopez, a NMHSCA 1st Team All-Stater in 14, from 6A Rio Rancho V. Sue Cleveland, and Sanchez – 2nd Team All-District 2-6A – from Albuquerque Manzano).
The first Four Corners regional product on the Las Vegas, N.M.-located team since Farmington, N.M., Piedra Vista product Mariah Culpepper in 2013, Herrera was Honorable Mention All-San Juan Basin League that same fall as an IHS senior, and as a junior in 2012 earned Second Team All-SJBL.
“Each position needs a greater level of depth without worry of the level of play dropping,” Crawford had said; pre-season, of his incoming crop. “Angela provides us with that depth defensively and at the service line.”
Requests made through Highlands’ sports information department for an up-to-date assessment of Herrera’s progression at the D-II level had gone unanswered by press time.
After going 1-2 the weekend of Sept. 25-27 – losing at both Black Hills (Spearfish, S.D.) State and South Dakota M&T (Rapid City, S.D.), but then winning in Denver at Johnson & Wales – NMHU stood 4-8 overall, 1-4 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s Mountain Division before hosting Colorado Mesa University and Salt Lake City, Utah-based Westminster College in RMAC action Oct. 2 and 3.
Last year the Cowgirls went 11-18 (5-13 RMAC) overall, similar to a 12-17 (6-13) showing in 2013, and both seasons Highlands finished 11th in the 14-team (it now has 16) circuit.