The volleyball program at Mines has been all but a conference dynasty in recent years. The squad has made an NCAA tournament appearance every year since 2009, including five RMAC regular season titles, and two tournament titles. From the outside looking in, this season does not look too different: starting out 18-3 overall, only dropping one of the first 13 conference matches, and holding onto the first-place spot in the conference. However, the team has changed a bit from last season.
In the 2017 season, there were four seniors leading the way. This year, outside hitter Janice Jin is the only player with three years of experience under her belt. Additionally, nine of the fifteen players on the roster are true freshmen.
“Having all of those new faces and trying to piece together their strengths and what their role on the team is, it’s a bit of a challenge,” admitted Jin. “But I think we’ve got it under our belt.”
It can’t be easy when over half of your team is new to the program, but the Orediggers have put in the work to get on the same page. “It starts with the very first practice,” explained Jin. She cites the five sophomores and juniors for helping get all of the new players up to speed. Jin also said that on the court, the freshmen are playing like they have been here before. “They’ve stepped into their role right away,” said Jin.
Freshmen Elle Duis and Drew Stokes have especially stepped up. Duis has filled the role of defensive specialist, and leads the team with 362 digs so far this season. Stokes has been awarded RMAC setter of the week four times and is in a position to put herself among all-time Oredigger single-season assist leaders.
“They’ve been on winning teams before,” said Jin, speaking for all nine freshmen. “They’ve caught on really well.”
Another young player continuCont’d: “Mines Volleyball” >>ing to make her mark is sophomore outside hitter, and Janice Jin’s younger sister, Lindsey Jin.
Lindsey ended her freshman year being named First-Team All-RMAC and AVCA South Central Freshman of the Year. Janice and Lindsey actually went to different high schools, and had not begun playing together before last season. “It’s really nice to have that support system,” said Janice.
The Jin sisters are both outside hitters, and have similar styles of play. “There’s always at least one of us on the court,” said Janice, “so you can’t get rid of us.”
The pair has combined for 335 kills so far this season.
Junior middle blocker Abby Tiesman is also putting together an impressive season, leading the Orediggers with 273 kills and earning two RMAC Offensive Player of the Week awards. Up and down the roster, everyone is contributing, and the results have spoken for themselves.
“I hope that we can win it outright,” said Janice, noting a lack of closure from ending last season in a tie with Regis for the number one spot in the conference. An RMAC title would also mean an automatic NCAA tournament berth. “Hopefully we can keep that tradition.”
The Orediggers resume home action on Friday, October 26 th at 7 p.m. They play rival Colorado Mesa on Saturday the 27 th at 5 p.m. in a match to possibly decide the conference title. Come on out to Lockridge Arena to support the Orediggers.