Whether it came in the form of returning from a possible career-threatening injury or taking the college volleyball court as if she belongs, New Mexico State freshman Nathalie Castellanos is approaching the 2012 NCAA Tournament like anything else: With little to no fear in her game.
“I’m pretty excited. Kind of nervous because it’s something bigger,” she said. “But, at the end of the day, it’s volleyball.”
The Aggies (22-10) take on No. 12 national seed BYU today at 7:30 p.m. in Provo, Utah. The match will air on BYUtv (Dish Network channel 9403, DirecTV channel 374, Comcast channel 289 in Albuquerque and byutvsports.com).
A Gadsden High alum, Castellanos said initially a redshirt season was in store, although she instead earned an immediate role with New Mexico State in 2012. She’s had more good moments than bad (playing in 25 matches while starting 11, ranking sixth on the team with 91 kills).
Last week during the Aggies’ Western Athletic Conference Tournament triumph, Castellanos could be seen playing some right-side hitter during such key matches.
“Early on in the season she was a little nervous. But she got past that pretty quick,” said NMSU coach Mike Jordan. “She was always ready. When she was sitting the bench and I put her in a match, it didn’t matter if the score was 5-5 or 23-all. She hustled into that game and looked excited to go and give us a lift.”
During her freshman campaign, Castellanos has sported many of the same attributes that made her a successful high school player for two Class 5A championship teams: Namely, a player with competitive fire and high-end athleticism, one who wasn’t intimidated by the competition on the other side of the net.
“She’s there to play,” middle hitter Desiree Scott said of Castellanos. “You don’t want to play next to someone that doesn’t want to be there. It’s definitely a good feeling when someone’s out there for a reason.”
— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal