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Mandy Aragon’s work ethic gives Niles North a boost

At 5-2, Mandy Aragon is nearly a foot shorter than Niles North’s tallest volleyball player, Amanda Green. Aragon said opposing players sometimes underestimate her because of her height.

She said she doesn’t mind, though. It just makes getting digs against them that much sweeter.

“My goal personally is to get a touch on every ball,” Aragon said. “I don’t want any ball to drop if I could have gotten to it.”

Vikings coach Michael Cott considers Aragon, a senior libero, one of the team’s hardest workers in practice. This season, that work ethic has produced impressive results. Aragon had a career-best 20 digs in a loss to Maine East on Sept. 18.

“I was really happy when I heard about that, I didn’t even realize it happened during the game,” Aragon said. “It made me feel really good about myself.”

According to Cott, Aragon’s volleyball skills have improved dramatically over the two years in which she has been a part of the Niles North varsity team.

Although Aragon played libero last year on her club team, Energy Volleyball, this is her first season playing the position for the Vikings. She has become one of the team’s defensive leaders. Through 18 games, she had 20 aces and 140 digs.

Aragon plans to continue her volleyball career after graduation by playing on either an intramural or club team in college. Aragon also wants to play varsity softball next year and is considering a number of universities in the Midwest.

After she graduates, the Vikings are still scheduled to have one Aragon on their team. Mandy Aragon’s younger sister, Alyssa Aragon, is one of only two freshmen on the squad.

“She’s a great athlete and I’m proud of her for working hard and getting playing time,” Mandy Aragon said of her sister.

Cott said both Mandy and Alyssa Aragon are so composed that if he hadn’t known they were sisters, he would never have guessed from their behavior.

“Both just come to practice and they work,” he said. “Both of them are focused on what they have to do to get better.”