By: Martin Schlegel
Going to college, Monica Vega never considered she’d become a record holder.
Vega, a junior defensive specialist/libero for the Dragon’s volleyball team, finishes the season ranked No. 9 all-time in career digs at MSUM.
“I came from a small section and the game was slower,” Vega said. “When I came here I realized how fast paced it was. I didn’t really imagine myself doing that.”
Earlier in the season, Vega cracked the top-10 in digs and passed Susan Kolbow for ninth on the list on Nov. 3 against Minnesota State Mankato. She finished the season with 1,346 career digs, 20 behind Tonya Wales for eighth all-time.
“I think it’s a good honor to know that I’m up there with the people that coach (Tammy Blake) is talking about all the time, like Katy Ness,” Vega said. “She set the bar pretty high, knowing that she came from Ada that it’s possible for me to make it coming from a small town.”
Ness, like Vega, graduated from Ada-Borup and played volleyball at MSUM. Ness played four seasons with the Dragons from 2009 to 2012, finishing her college career with 2,160 digs, which is No. 2 all-time.
Vega said she always looked up to Ness, especially because of the Ada connection. Both players were born in Ada and were standout athletes at Ada-Borup High School.
Blake added there’s an awful lot to be proud of.
“For Monica to possibly be in the top-5 is pretty special,” Blake said. “There have been some pretty elite defensive people in our program throughout the years. That’s something she can be prideful of and hang her hat on.”
Having coached Ness and a few other players in the top-5, Blake said the past star players serve as an example that hard work paired with outstanding volleyball abilities can continue to improve.
“I can talk about the Katy Ness’s of the world and that top-5 because I’ve been here (coaching them),” Blake said. “I know what it took it for them to get to the point they’re at. We’ve helped them, we’ve coached them and Monica is always taking her feedback on everything. She does have that ability, she can even be better than what she is now.”
Vega finished sixth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in digs per set with 4.95 and total digs with 490. In 2016, she led the conference in digs per set with 5.50.She’s also on pace to finish her career in the top-5 in digs at MSUM.
While Vega was doubtful she’d become a record holder at MSUM, she’s realizing her name could be mentioned in the same breath as her fellow Ada native as one of the best defensive players.