Stephanie Ziegler and Desiree Scott are from the same hometown.
They played against each other in high school and with each other in club and, now, at New Mexico State for the last four years.
But that’s not where, or why, they bonded.
“It’s cool to have someone from Tucson,” said Ziegler, an outside hitter, “who knew what Eegee’s was.”
Scott added: “Oh, Eegee’s. I love Eegee’s, I miss Eegee’s.”
At 6 p.m., the Aggies will take on the UA in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but it won’t mark Ziegler’s and Scott’s return to the Old Pueblo and, inevitably, Eegee’s.
They got a little taste of it last week, though.
The WAC tournament was last week in Phoenix. Scott and Ziegler were allowed to come home afterward.
Scott is a Catalina Foothills product, and Ziegler’s from Canyon del Oro.
“They let us go home, and I saw that watermelon was back,” Ziegler said of Eegee’s most popular flavor of frozen fruit drink, which typically only appears in the summertime. “It was weird, but it was cool. It was the first thing I did when I got back in town.”
Don’t expect the Wildcats to bring them any Eegee’s treats tonight, though.
The Aggies finished the season with a 22-10 overall record, 14-2 in conference. They won the WAC regular season and the league tournament.
But with Arizona coming out of the Pac-12, and with a top-25 RPI, NMSU is the underdog.
Don’t blame Scott for that — the senior middle blocker was recently named the WAC Player of the Year.
“Desiree has developed into a tremendous player,” said Mike Jordan, the Aggies coach. “She’s one of the better middles around.”
She leads New Mexico State with 307 kills, and her .372 hit percentage is third in the WAC, 41st in the nation and better than any Wildcat.
As for Ziegler, she’s the Aggies’ jack-of-all-trades — she’s primarily an outside hitter, but plays everything else besides middle blocker, too.
Together, New Mexico State’s native Tucsonans have had solid careers for the Aggies since leaving the Old Pueblo.
When they were younger, they both went to UA volleyball camps, which were headed by UA coach Dave Rubio and employed then-Wildcats as camp counselors.
“I wanted to be like one of them when I was younger,” Scott said.
“I was looking at a picture from my freshman year (of high school), and Whitney Dosty is at the other side of the court. It’s really cool.”
Dosty, a Salpointe Catholic product, was one of the more significant Tucsonans to actually play for Rubio. Bre Ladd (CDO) was another.
Coincidentally, it was never a real possibility for Scott or Ziegler to end up a Wildcat.
Ziegler wasn’t interested in staying in-state, and Rubio didn’t have any spots at her position available on his roster anyway.
Scott was coming off multiple knee injuries in high school — she dislocated her knee cap four times — and Rubio just wasn’t interested.
From there, the chip was firmly placed on Scott’s shoulder.
“It’s been sort of a rivalry,” Scott said, “They never recruited me so, it’s like I do have talent, so now I’m kind of showing off to them.”
Rubio knows what he’s missing.
“She’s comparable to some of the top middles in our conference,” he said. Coming out of high school, “I just felt she wasn’t at the time a great fit for the program.
“I think four years later I regret that decision.”