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Prospects uncertain for a New Mexico State volleyball season

New Mexico State volleyball coach Mike Jordan isn’t sure his team will play this coming rescheduled season. (Journal file)

LAS CRUCES – Mike Jordan is open to opting out of the upcoming New Mexico State volleyball season due to a lack of practice time and uncertainty that the Aggies will actually play a season at all.

Both New Mexico State basketball teams have had limited nonconference games while based in Arizona. The men’s program has been shut down twice due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program.

“We see what has gone on with men’s basketball,” Jordan said. “For us, we are behind all of the other schools that were able to practice throughout the fall. I have a good team and think we can still do well.

“I would love to see my kids play, but we are up against it not being able to practice.”

Volleyball has a greater sense of urgency, but plans remain unclear for upcoming sports such as women’s soccer and Aggie football, which has three home games scheduled in February and March to go with 29 practices.

Western Athletic Conference volleyball matches are scheduled to begin on January 25-26 with NMSU hosting Dixie State. Aggie volleyball has an exhibition match scheduled for Saturday at Arizona in Tucson, where the Aggies hope to play their “home” matches at the Sporting Chance Center, since current COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico make matches at the Pan American Center impossible.

“In the next 48 hours we will have to have that conversation,” Jordan said. “I will lay out all of the pros and cons. But this might be the kind of thing that happens to us all year. If they were to choose to opt out, I would support them. But if they said they want to play all road games and not practice, ever, I would say, ‘Let’s go.’ I’m going to roll with them.”

Jordan’s players returned to campus after Christmas, and women’s soccer players and football players returned last week.

WAC women’s soccer is scheduled to begin on Feb. 18. Aggie women’s soccer coach Rob Baarts said the soccer program plans to begin training on Jan. 18 at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson with nonconference games against Arizona State, Arizona and at UTEP prior to conference play.

Baarts said that three players will not play this spring due to academic commitments.

“We have three nursing students who have clinicals and labs that they have to be at so it doesn’t work for them,” Baarts said. “At the end of the day, you are a college student. Everyone else is all on board.”

Among the proposals for New Mexico State athletics moving forward is the hope to establish a scenario similar to the New Mexico United soccer team in Albuquerque over the summer in which athletes would isolate while in Las Cruces while practicing or playing games out of state. NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said El Paso is a possibility, particularity for the football program.

“I think all locations remain on the table,” Moccia said. “In my mind if we were to practice in El Paso, we would be leaving on a bus, drive to a field, do a practice, get back on the bus and quarantine.

“We are hopeful of getting some direction on what will happen for the rest of our sports because they are starting very soon.”

For now, it seems that the only surety is that the school plans to see basketball season through.

“We continue to follow each of our athletic teams very closely,” NMSU president John Floros said in a statement. “At this point, NMSU has no plans to change the current strategy with our men’s and women’s basketball teams. As for our football team and the remainder of our sports, we’re still developing those plans but hope to have more information to announce soon.”

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