DENVER – The NM State volleyball program is set to begin its season in eight days and it will do so with some lofty expectations. The Aggies have been chosen to finish first in the WAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll while also rostering the WAC Preseason Player of the Year and landing a pair on the Preseason All-WAC Team.

In a vote of the league’s 13 head coaches, the Aggies collected a league-best six first-place and 135 total points to finish atop the group. NM State finished six points ahead of last year’s WAC Tournament Champion Utah Valley who claimed five first-place votes to finish second in the poll. Meanwhile, Grand Canyon and Sam Houston split the remaining two first-place votes to finish slotted in third and fourth, respectively.

The Aggies are coming off another strong campaign in which they finished the season with an overall record of 19-10 while going 10-4 in WAC play to claim the WAC West Division Regular Season crown. This marked the third-straight WAC regular season title for Mike Jordan and his squad and the eighth title in program history.

Junior outside hitter Katie Birtcil was recognized as the preseason player of the year and a member of the All-WAC First Team after a 2021 season in which she earned First Team All-WAC honors. Fellow Aggie Lia Mosher was also named to the All-WAC First Team after garnering her second First Team All-WAC selection in the fall of 2021.

Birtcil dominated on the corner a season ago – leading the West Division champion Aggies in kills per set (3.66) and points per set (4.08) while maintaining a solid .277 hitting percentage. The Tucson, Ariz., native appeared in all 29 games last year while notching 17 starts. She was also on a short list of WAC hitters to finish the year ranked among the top four in kills per set, total points and total kills. Birtcil also claimed WAC Player of the Week honors after leading the Aggies to a 2-0 start in WAC play last season.

Mosher enters her sixth season with NM State and has already built up some impressive numbers. The middle blocker hailing from Ruidoso, N.M., started all 29 matches for the Aggies last year and finished the year ranked first in the conference in hitting percentage (.399) while ranking third in total points (283.5) and total kills (224). In addition to her First Team All-WAC selection last fall, she put together a laundry list of awards in the spring of 2021, including being named First Team All-WAC and WAC All-Tournament while also picking up AVCA All-Region distinction.

The Aggies will open preseason play with an exhibition match versus in-state foe Western New Mexico on Saturday at 1 p.m. (MT). The start of the regular season for the Aggies will commence in Tucson, Ariz., as they take on Alabama State on Aug. 26 at Noon before clashing with Arizona later that night at 7:30 p.m.