By MIKE MONTFORT —
TYLER — Navarro volleyball’s Traveling Road Show returns here Friday for the two-day TJC Invitational at Floyd Wagstaff Gymnasium.
Coach Ronda Shirley’s 13th-ranked Bulldogs (15-5, 2-1 in Region XIV zone) face four more nationally regarded squads as the “All In To Win Tour” of 17 consecutive road matches continues. The Bulldogs are coming off a significant four days that included a 3-1 weekend at the Blue Dragon Classic in Hutchinson, Ks. Within four days, NC defeated No. 3 Panola in 4 games at Carthage, as well as downing No. 2 Iowa Western and No. 6 Indian Hills in 5 games in Kansas.
As of Thursday, the Bulldogs found themselves ranked highly in several NJCAA team statistical categories. After 20 matches, Navarro currently leads the NJCAA in assists (917), ranks ninth in block assists (225), 10th in digs (1198) and 13th in kills (869).
Navarro’s momentum runs high as it prepared for Friday matches against Seward County, Ks., and New Mexico Military Institute.
Here are thumbnail previews of teams NC squares off against this weekend:
SEWARD COUNTY, Ks. (18-1 overall / 3-0 at home / 5-0 on the road / 10-1 on neutral courts) — Coach Thais Baziquetto-Allen’s sixth-ranked Saints are enjoying their highest NJCAA ranking since 2002. Highlighting their run is a stretch of four match victories over ranked opponents, plus a five-game Jayhawk West Conference victory Wednesday over Hutchinson at The Sports Arena for the first time in seven seasons. Sophomore middle-hitter Marianna Nascimiento, who had 17 kills against Hutchinson, has a .445 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Giovanna Kuntze averages 10.6 assists per set. And there’s 6-foot-6 Dominican freshman Luz Sierra, who had an imposing eight blocks Wednesday against the Blue Dragons. In the Jayhawk West, Seward ranks first in kills (890), kills per set (14.35), hitting percentage (.282), assists (777), assists per set (12.53), service aces (155), service aces per set (2.50), total points (1189.0) and points per set (19.2) — numbers that enable the Liberal, Ks., squad to rank high nationally.
NMMI (17-7 overall / 5-0 at home / 2-0 on the road / 10-7 neutral courts) — Navarro defeated coach Shelby Forchtner’s Broncos 3-1 Saturday at Hutchinson, making NMMI the Bulldogs’ fourth Region V WJCAC victims this season. Since Saturday, the Broncos improved their league record to a perfect 4-0 with a 25-22, 28-26, 25-20 win over Midland. Top outside hitters Hannah Davis and McKayla Landreth got the job done Wednesday with eight kills each. Freshmen Karen Rivera-Herrera leads the team in assists (326) and Karime Raygoza has a club-high 211 digs.
MONROE (10-5 overall / 4-2 at home / 3-2 on the road / 3-1 on neutral courts) — The Mustangs are led by sophomore outside hitters Keyshia Laureano-Perez (118 kills) and Karla Figueroa (116), freshmen libero Nashally Eleutiza (203 digs), and freshmen setters Daline Rios (224 assists) and Alexis Baer (184). Coach Nephtali Delgado Reyes’ club posted 3-2 weekends during the College of Southern Idaho Tournament at Twin Falls, and at the Florida State Tournament in Jacksonville. The Mustangs, which have been ranked as high as No. 16 this season., were swept Thursday night in their TJC Invite debut against the Apache Ladies.
HUTCHINSON (14-7 overall / 5-1 at home / 4-3 on the road / 5-3 on neutral courts) — Coach Patrick Hall’s Blue Dragons hover on the fringes of the Top 20 with Page Hiebert leading the NJCAA in kills per set (4.28) and ranking second in total kills with 287. In the Blue Dragon Classic last weekend, Hutchinson defeated Indian Hills (3-0) and dropped a 5-game match to Iowa Western.