Team enjoys spot in NJCAA Top 20 for second straight preseason
Yuma, Arizona – August 7, 2012 -- Arizona Western College is proud to announce that for the second straight year, the Matadors’ volleyball team has earned a spot in the NJCAA Preseason Division I Volleyball Poll. The 2012 Lady Matadors have landed in the #17 position in the poll-just nine spots behind the team they faced in last year’s Region I Division I Volleyball Finals, Eastern Arizona College. It’s the fifth time in the last six years that the Lady Mats will start the regular season nationally ranked. The announcement comes just one day before the Lady Matadors begin preseason drills in preparation for their season opener against Scottsdale Community College on the road on Thursday, August 23rd.
The preseason national recognition is certainly something that AWC Head Volleyball Coach Jason Smith appreciates, but he knows that this year’s team needs to accomplish something more than last year’s team to sustain that national respect. The 2011 squad showed plenty of promise in earning a #11 preseason spot in last year’s poll, but a slow start to the season dropped them from the poll after the season’s second week, and they weren’t able to return to the poll the rest of the season. Nevertheless, the team gradually grew together, and made a strong late-season push to win four of their final five regular season matches and clinch a berth in the Region I Finals for the second straight season. After putting up a game effort in the finals against eventual Region I Champion Eastern Arizona, they finished the season with a 12-9 overall record. Plenty of that young talent that got the Lady Matadors to last year’s championship match returns for 2012, including 1st Team All-Region I/All-ACCAC middle blocker Amanda Watkins, as well as fellow returning starters, outside hitter Paula Rosa and opposite Polina Severina.
Smith has yet to have a team miss reaching the Region I Finals in his four years at the helm of the program (he also was the Lady Matadors’ Head Coach in 2006 & 2007, leading them to Region I Championships both years), and certainly expects this year’s squad to follow suit. After opening up the regular season schedule at Scottsdale, the Lady Mats will turn up the lights at ‘The House’-AWC’s home gymnasium-for the first time on Friday night, August 24th, to host the Pima Lady Aztecs in their ACCAC home opener. The match’s first serve is scheduled for 7PM on the AWC campus (2020 South Avenue 8E in Yuma). Ticket prices to the match are as follows: $5 for adults; $3 for seniors, military personnel (with a valid military ID) and kids ages 12-17; and free for MAA Members, AWC Students and NAU-Yuma Students.