It was a battle of top five ranked teams between No. 4 Western Nebraska Community College and No. 2 Iowa Western Community. WNCC fought hard, but Iowa Western proved too strong in capturing the thrilling four-set win over the Cougars 27-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-21.
WNCC finished the first day of the WNCC Classic 1-1. The Cougars opened the Classic with a sweep over Laredo Community College 25-17, 25-19, 25-17.
”I think we accomplished great things today,” Joise Maldonado. “We were committed to do a good job on the court today since the past few matches have been a struggle. We came with a lot of fight and enthusiasm and we did well.
“Against Iowa Western, we had the opportunity to come back with more strength. Even though we didn’t get that win, we gained a lot of things that we lost focus on for the past few weeks.”
The Iowa Western match was a battle. The Cougars finished with 50 total kills led by Maldonado with 14 and Brooke Kaawa with 12. Sarena Bartley tallied nine kills, while Kaile Tuisamatatele had seven.
The first set was a donnybrook as Iowa Western held a 24-19 lead before Genesis Benitez served four points to tie the set a 24-24. Iowa Western escaped the opening set 27-25.
The second set was another dogfight between the two top-five ranked teams. The two squads were tied at 15-15 before the Reivers led 18-15. WNCC rebounded cutting the lead to 18-17. The Reivers came back to lead 21-17 and won the second 25-18.
The third set saw WNCC jump out to a 9-4 lead behind six points from Syenna Masaki and pushed the lead to 16-9 on a couple points from Kaawa. WNCC stayed strong leading 20-12 and won 25-21.
The fourth set was knotted at 15-15 before Iowa Western took a 20-16 lead. WNCC came back to slice the lead to 23-18 on a Tuisamatatatele kill and was down 23-20 when Marshall put up a block for a point. But, the Reivers were too tough and got the win 25-21.
WNCC had a good defensive match as Benitez had 22 digs followed by Kaawa with 15, Kristee Trees with six, and Masaki and Lauren Shaul with five each.
Masaki led the way from the service line with 13 points, while Shaul had eight, Benitez had seven, and Trees had four.
The Cougars started the WNCC Classic off with an impressive win over Laredo Community College.
The Cougars were led by Kaawa and Maldonado each with eight kills. Marshall followed with seven followed by five each from Bartley and Tiusamatatele.
Masaki had three kills with three solo blocks. Masaki also had six points, four digs, and 18 set assists. Jayme Commins finished the game with 11 set assists, three digs, and two points.
Also for the Cougars, Kaawa had four points and 19 digs; Genesis Benitez had 14 digs and 14 points; Trees had thee digs and five points; Lauren Shaul had eight digs and four points; and Marshall had five points,
In other matches on the day, San Jacinto topped Barton in four 25-13, 25-16, 22-25, 25-23; Iowa Western defeated San Jacinto 25-22, 25-20, 25-17, and Laredo defeated Barton 27-29, 25-22, 25-17, 25-23.
Saturday’s schedule has five matches. Action starts bright and early with Barton taking on Iowa Western at 9 a.m., San Jacinto facing Northeastern Junior College at 11 a.m., Laredo meeting Iowa Western at 1 p.m., Barton facing the host Cougars in sophomore recognition day at 3 p.m., and Laredo wraps up the classic by facing Northeastern at 5 p.m.