Reuniting with their former coach factored into where two former Laramie County Community College volleyball players decided to continue their collegiate careers.
Freshman Jazzy Espinoza and sophomore Payton Stack signed their letters of intent to play at NCAA DII CSU-Pueblo on Feb. 7, to follow their former, and soon to be future, coach Austin Albers.
Albers shocked the LCCC community by leaving a powerhouse program to go to a team that went 5-22 in the 2018 season.
“It was just home down there, the school, the girls and of course Austin was the main driving factor when I decided that’s where I wanted to play,” Stack said.
Stack, who is from Casper, was all Region IX in her sophomore season. Stack recorded 466 kills, 75 digs, and 244 blocks in her two years with LCCC.
“I went on multiple visits and none of them seemed like the right fit. They didn’t have that home feeling like Pueblo did,” Stack said.
According to Stack, it was just icing on the cake when Espinoza signed with her.
Espinoza, a Cheyenne East High School standout, is not in the same circumstances as Stack. Espinoza is only a freshman, which meant that she had still one more year of eligibility with the LCCC program. But the thought of having Albers as head coach for three years was something she said she couldn’t resist. Espinoza would come off the bench earlier in the 2018 season, but with coaching and hard work she found her way into the starting lineup.
“Albers going there was a big part, but after visiting it just felt right,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza was named the Region IX North Freshman of the Year in 2018.
“(Albers) is just someone who just believed in me and knew I could be a starter,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza and Stack were starters throughout the whole postseason run for the Golden Eagles and helped them reach ninth at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in November.
Even though CSU-Pueblo was 5-22 last season, both Stack and Espinoza feel that the record will change next year.
“ It may not happen overnight but we could definitely turn that into a winning program,” Stack said.