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Kirtland grad Hannah Hamblin looks to make Carlsbad volleyball relevant at state level

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — Getting her first shot as a head volleyball coach, Hannah Hamblin is driven by her past disappointments, particularly how her playing days at Kirtland Central ended.

After a 17-3 start, the Lady Broncos dropped its final three matches in 2011 and won just eight total matches in 2012. 

Now the 2013 KC graduate, formerly Hannah Washburn, hopes to turn Carlsbad — a New Mexico volleyball bottom-dweller with just 67 wins since 2007 — into a relevant, respectable playoff team.

"This is an amazing opportunity to leave my mark," Hamblin, 24, said. "The program, it needed a boost. It needed dire changes. When you expect a lot out of people, they rise to the occasion."

Carlsbad's new volleyball coach Hannah Hamblin and her seven-month old daughter, Bliss, pose inside Hamblin's office. Hamblin looks to revitalize a volleyball program that went 9-33 in its two previous seasons.

Hamblin was vocal, energetic and scrappy on defense while at KC. She moved to Carlsbad in July 2018 for her husband Kerby's job with Chevron. 

"She’s a competitor. I’ve enjoyed these four weeks or so working with her already,” Carlsbad athletic director James Johns said. “She’s going to be good at really getting the most out of them. If she continues to push these (girls), I think success will take care of itself. They’re getting after it. She’s involved with that. I like the direction things are going, for sure.”

Hannah Hamblin, then known as Hannah Washburn, is seen wearing the number 15 jersey during a 2011 Kirtland Central High School volleyball game against Farmington High School.

Hamblin also didn't let little things slide, something made readily apparent last weekend.

About midway through Carlsbad's alumni match, a couple players let the ball drop to the floor. She stopped play, made them do push-ups.

"I almost went ballistic," Hamblin said.

Just like when she was at Kirtland, Hamblin wants to see that never-ending fight on defense.

"Our defense should be on it all the time. If we don't have good defense in the background, what are we doing? You don't let anything touch that ground," Hamblin said.

Hannah Hamblin, formerly known as Hannah Washburn, played for Kirtland Central High School. She is pictured during a game against Piedra Vista High School in a file image from 2011. Hamblin is wearing number 15.

Hamblin also said she wants to use every hitter up front to generate at least six or seven kills per match. That way, it'll keep opponents on guard.

"They're going to have to be worried constantly about where that ball's coming from," Hamblin said.

Hamblin said she'd love to turn things around in a hurry, eyeing a playoff berth in 2019. However, even back-to-back .500 seasons in 2019 and 2020 would be a positive trend.

"We're not holding back this year. We have nowhere to go but up," Hamblin said. "I want (opponents) to be afraid of us. I want them to respect us."

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

Hannah Hamblin, then known as Hannah Washburn, competes during a 2011 Kirtland Central High School volleyball game.