For the second straight year, UNM volleyball head coach Jeff Nelson is sending a pair of Lobos to the U.S. Collegiate National Team.
“There aren’t very many schools that have multiple kids on,” Nelson said. “It’s pretty awesome to have a couple kids make it and have that experience.”
Chantale Riddle will be representing UNM for the third consecutive year. Riddle was not among the five Lobos who attended the tryouts because she was being honored as the New Mexico Female Athlete of the Year.
Riddle said that although she wanted to attend the tryouts, she was flattered about being selected solely on merit.
“Getting ‘female athlete of the year’ for New Mexico is a huge award. It’s pretty close to an All-American,” she said. “I am glad that they still have respect for me to have me.”
Riddle will be accompanied by freshman outside hitter Cassie House. Nelson said that House making the national team as a freshman is a big accomplishment.
“When you make it to this level, it’s a pretty daunting task to get selected,” Nelson said. “If she doesn’t feel really good and more confident then there is something wrong with her, because she certainly should.”
Of the 36 individuals selected, House is one of nine freshmen named on the national roster.
“The fact that I made it as a freshman is really nerve-racking because that’s a lot of girls that have played a lot of volleyball,” she said. “It’s really, really exciting.”
Riddle said having House accompany her to the national team is going to help tame her nerves.
“It’s definitely like a security blanket,” she said. “Having someone that you know is going to play just like you and work just as hard as you … It’s just great to have someone share that experience with you.”
Nelson said having players being selected on a national level is a good indicator of the high quality of athletes going through the New Mexico program.
“It speaks a lot of the athletes that are coming out of New Mexico,” Nelson said. “It reflects on the level of athlete that we are bringing in. I think that we are doing a better job recruiting.”
Riddle finished the year first in kills (468) for UNM. The All-American currently resides in fifth place all-time for UNM in total kills (1,182). House finished off her freshman campaign with 218 kills from the outside.
House said she is excited for the program to send two locally raised individuals to the USA Collegiate National Team.
“It’s really cool for UNM to be able to send two girls,” she said. “I’m just looking to take in the different coaching styles and the level of competitiveness.”
The two UNM players will be coached by two retired collegiate coaches, Mike Hebert and Bill Neville.