The Golden Eagles volleyball team had an outstanding year and the same could be said about freshman outside hitter Avery Nelson.
Nelson was named the Region IX North Freshman of the Year after appearing in all 42 matches and leading the Golden Eagles in kills, with a total of 472.
“I didn’t expect it I guess,” Nelson said. “When they announced that I was (Freshman of the Year) I was super excited and it meant a lot.”
Nelson helped lead the Golden Eagles to a record of 34-8 and the team’s first ever NJCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament.
The Golden Eagles lost their first match against Mineral Area College but were able to recover and win their next two games against Eastern Arizona College and St. Petersburg College.
The Golden Eagles eventually lost to Panola College 3-0 to finish the season. Even after the loss, the Golden Eagles finished the year with their highest ever ranking of 10th in the nation.
“I think that after losing the first one we kinda got the mindset of ‘ok we wanna start doing better,’” Nelson said. “That was disappointing at first but then we started kicking butt and doing things unexpectedly against the next two teams.”
It wasn’t all about winning and losing for Nelson in the national tournament. It was more about the experience and having fun.
“Kansas was really fun,” Nelson said. “I mean there were a lot of teams that were a lot better than in conference and to be able to challenge ourselves to play against them was really fun.”
Even before Nelson won Freshman of the Year, she felt like her freshman season was a success.
“I think it was a lot more (successful) than I expected,” Nelson said. “It was an amazing season to me and I had a really good experience with my teammates, and my coach, and our outcomes.”
Nelson was also named to the Region IX North First Team, and even after all of her accolades Nelson hopes to improve during the off season.
“As a team I think that we did really well this year with culture and I think next year we need to keep that up,” Nelson said. “Individually I want to work on my mindset and keep getting better.”
It was a successful year all around for the Nelson and the Golden Eagles, which led to Nelson truly enjoying her freshman year.
“Play and loving every minute of it with my team and my coach and the sport,” Nelson said. “It boosted my love for the game this season. That was the most enjoyable part.”