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Midland College’s Lindamara Conceicao (1) hits the ball past New Mexico Military Institute’s Allyah Tokelau (14) on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 at Chaparral Center. Jacy Lewis/Reporter-Telegram
Megan Runyan and Lindamara Conceicao are two players on the Midland College volleyball team who look to have better years after transitional freshman seasons.
Runyan, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter from Devine, had to adjust to college volleyball last year and hopes to get more playing time this year, Meanwhile, Conceicao, a 6-foot middle blocker, had to adjust to living and playing in the United States after coming to the Permian Basin from Brazil.
The two more seasoned players will now be looked upon to lead the younger players and improve on last year’s 17-8 season.
“I think our biggest strength is having a returning class that is so much mature now than they were last year,” MC coach Tammie Jimenez said. “Their volleyball IQ has improved, their speed of play has improved, their confidence overall has improved. They’re definitely leading by example with how they work every day in practice. They know the expectations for how we approach practice with our mindset, how we approach practice in terms of just being disciplined every day.”
Both players say they expect the team to do very well in a season that starts with the MC Kick-Off Classic Friday and Saturday at Chaparral Center. The Lady Chaps will play four matches over the next two days.
“I expect regionals and nationals,” Conceicao said. “I think we are capable of going far. We are working hard.”
Added Runyan, “We all get along and have good chemistry. We’ve only all known each other for about two weeks or so and we’ve seen a lot of improvement in those two weeks.”
Runyan said she’s improved a lot since she came in as a wide-eyed freshman, and she thinks that will translate to good things on the court this year.
“I’m not as nervous as I was as a freshman,” she said. “Hopefully that will raise my confidence going into this season. I needed to work on my volleyball IQ and just know where I am on the court and where my defenders are on the court in order to find available shots.
“I had to learn a lot in a short amount of time and I had to take it all in.”
Conceicao said she also has more confidence in her second year. She came to MC from Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil not knowing much English and she was the only one from her country. But she took a leap of faith because she liked the coaching staff and MC was her way of playing the sport at a higher level.
“The coaches here are really nice and they were willing to help me a lot because my English was worse than what it is now,” she said. “This college helped me a lot.”
She said that compared to the way they play volleyball Brazil, it’s a lot more physical in the U.S.
“Now I know how to play American volleyball because it’s really different in my country and now I’m more comfortable on the court,” said Conceicao, an honorable mention All-Western Junior College Athletic Conference selection last year. “This year I can breathe. Last year I was so worried about how I’m going to do this and that. Now things are easier.”
And just like every year at the junior college level, there are going to be a whole new batch of young players learning the ropes this season at MC. Five freshmen are part of this year’s roster and some of the returning players are being counted on to have bigger roles than in 2021.
“I expect that we’re going to go through an uphill climb because we’re relatively young in terms of age and young in terms of volleyball IQ,” Jimenez said. ”There’s some maturing that still needs to happen and the speed of the game has been a little problematic for us just in the start of the preseason. But those are things that are going to come with repetition and time.”
Both players said they are ready to lead this team.
“(The freshmen) already ask lots of questions about other teams and I just tell them that they should try not to be nervous because it’s going to affect the way they play,” Runyan said. “There are going to be times where you make mistakes and you can’t let it get to your head.”
Conceicao is optimistic about what this team can do.
“I think we just need to keep going and working hard and we need to keep improving on our weaknesses,” she said. “I think we have a good team. We are not the tallest team but I think we have good pieces.”
Follow Oscar on Twitter: @OLeRoy_MRT
 
LADY CHAPS AT A GLANCE
Head coach: Tammie Jimenez, 12th year, (194-123)
2022 Record: 17-8 overall, 9-3 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference
Top returners: All-WJCAC honorable mention OH Lindmara Conceicao (1.48 kills, 0.8 blocks per set), S Julia Kabala (5.0 sets, 1.42 digs per set), RS Zoe Fernandez (1.14 kills per set)
Key players lost: All-WJCAC OH/MH Lucie Maceckova, All-WJCAC MH Macarena Flores, All-WJCAC OH Karina Salinas
Top newcomers: DS Miranda Acosta, OH Angeli Sanchez
Coach’s quote: “They’ve come in with a good mindset. We did some pre, preseason mental preparation so we can come into the preseason workouts with the right mindset, focus, expectations of who we want to be and what we want to achieve. They have been very receptive to not only on the court training but off the court training. They have been very open minded and they’re just a good group to be around and work with every day. I’m looking forward to seeing their growth.”

2022 Midland College Roster
No.      Name  Pos.     Class   Ht.       Hometown
1          Lindamara Conceicao MB      So.       6-0       Minas Gerais, Brazil
2          Mia Ornelas    DS       So.       5-2       El Paso
3          Julia Kabala    S          So.       5-7       Warsaw, Poland
4          Angeli Sanchez           OH      Fr.        5-8       San Antonio
5          Laura Milori    OH      So.       5-9       Sao Carlos, Brazil
6          Alejandra Garcia         DS       Fr.        5-3       Midland
8          Ana Zink         S          Fr.        5-11     Campinas, Brazil
9          Zoe Fernandez RS       So.       5-9       Buenos Aires, Argentina
11        Megan Runyan            OH      So.       5-9       Devine
12        Petra Fernandez          OH      So.       5-11     Buenos Aires, Argentina
15        Kinga Romanowicz    MB      Fr.        5-8       Melgiew, Poland
17        Miranda Acosta          DS       Fr.        5-5       Hereford
Head coach: Tammie Jimenez
Assistant coach: Kristina Gafford
 
2022 Midland College Volleyball Schedule
Date    Opponent        Time
Aug. 19           a-Otero College           noon
Aug. 19           a-North Central Texas College           6 p.m.
Aug. 20           a-Lee College  11 a.m.
Aug. 20           a-Navarro College       3 p.m.
Aug. 26           b-Lee College  11 a.m.
Aug. 26           b-Blinn College 4 p.m.
Aug. 27           b-Southwestern Christian College      9 a.m.
Aug. 27           b-Vernon College        3 p.m.
Sept. 2 c-Snow College           1 p.m.
Sept. 2 c-Yavapai College      9 p.m.
Sept. 3 c-Arizona Western College 11 a.m.
Sept. 3 c-Lee College  3 p.m.
Sept. 9 d-Blinn College           11 a.m.
Sept. 9 d-Otero College          3 p.m.
Sept. 10           d-Tyler Junior College 10 a.m.
Sept.  10          d-Trinidad State College         2 p.m.
Sept. 14           *Clarendon College    6 p.m.
Sept. 17           at *New Mexico JC    4 p.m.
Sept. 21           *Western Texas College         6 p.m.
Sept. 24           at *Amarillo College   3 p.m.
Sept. 28           at *Frank Phillips College      6 p.m.
Oct. 1  at *New Mexico Military        3 p.m.
Oct. 5  *Odessa College         6 p.m.
Oct. 8  at *Clarendon College            2 p.m.
Oct. 12 *New Mexico JC        6 p.m.
Oct. 15 at *Western Texas College     2 p.m.
Oct. 19 *Amarillo College      6 p.m.
Oct. 22 *Frank Phillips College          2 p.m.
Oct. 26 *New Mexico Military            6 p.m.
Oct. 29 at *Odessa College     2 p.m.  
a-at MC Kick-Off Classic
b-at WTC Fall Classic, Snyder
c-at Dalton Overstreet Invitational, Prescott, Ariz.
d-at NMJC Classic, Hobbs, N.M.
*Denotes WJCAC opponent
 
Sports Editor for the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

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