Kaitlynn Biassou’s third season playing as outside hitter for the University of New Mexico volleyball team has been phenomenal, littered with accolades and the opportunity to lead as a star player. At this point, that’s normal for Biassou.

Biassou was first named captain last season in her sophomore year, and was co-captain alongside libero Alena Moldan. As co-captain again this year with Moldan, she has blossomed into the role with confidence.

“Over time I’ve adjusted, and I’ve learned what it’s like to be a leader,” Biassou said. “Sometimes it can be hard when (my teammates) have questions for me, and I don’t always have the answers, but I think now I’m more mature, and I’m still continuing to learn. But it’s something I’ve been better at since I was first named captain.”

Head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar joined the Lobos the same season that Biassou did, and it didn’t take long for him to know that the young outside hitter would be a cornerstone of his team for her whole career.

A match against the University of Nevada, Reno on Oct. 17, 2019 set the stage for how much Biassou would excel. This match went on for five sets, and Biassou registered 19 kills — five in the last set — and hit 0.500 in the final set. Since then, Biassou has continually improved  into one of the most formidable offensive weapons in the Mountain West Conference.

“When we went to Reno — where she’s from — she absolutely dominated, and it was one of her first matches as an NCAA Division I volleyball player,” Newman-Gonchar said. “The (Reno) coach after said something like, ‘Leave it to the local kid to come out here and absolutely dominate us’ and I thought, ‘That’s right; that’s going to happen for the next four years.’”

Currently, Biassou ranks second in kills per set (3.81) and points per set (4.53) in the Mountain West Conference. She has recorded the third-most kills in a three-set match, the third-most kills in a four-set match twice and the second-most kills in a five-set match this season in the conference. Making this all the more impressive is that Biassou has done it all at only 5 feet, 9 inches tall, while the average Division I outside hitter is 6 feet tall.

“There’s this athlete that a lot of people overlook because of her size,” Newman-Gonchar said. “They quickly learn that at (5 feet, 9 inches) she can jump with the best of them and she can hang with the best of them.”

Before playing volleyball, Biassou was out-leaping opponents on the basketball court, and she was good enough to be named to the 2018-19 ALL-USA Nevada Girls First Basketball Team as well as a number of Nevada all-state girls basketball teams. She was introduced to volleyball through her older sister Ashlynn and played middle blocker until her junior year of high school when she made the switch to outside hitter. Biassou visited UNM for the first time in October of her senior year and credited the program’s culture and team atmosphere as reasons she knew immediately that she wanted to be a Lobo.

Biassou said that her major goal this season is consistency, and thus far in the season she’s delivered, scoring at least 10 points in all but four matches and elevating her defensive presence over her last three seasons. She’s also gotten more efficient, hitting a career-best average of 0.284 this season. Newman-Gonchar said what really separates Biassou from her competition is her ability to elevate her play and poise when her team needs her most, particularly at the end of hard, match-deciding sets.

“It’s the way that she carries herself, her posture,” Newman-Gonchar said.

Biassou said that her biggest role model, her dad, taught her about presence in moments of adversity.

“He’s shown me that no matter what life is handing you, you can work through adversity,” Biassou said. “He’s always shown me to never let anyone see when you’re down. I’ve always looked up to him, and I always will look up to him.”

Biassou isn’t sure what she wants to do after college volleyball is over, though she hopes to play overseas and is also considering coaching either basketball or volleyball back in her hometown of Reno.

“Right now, I’m just seeing what the future has in store for me and just going along for the ride,” Biassou said.

Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy