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WNCC volleyball downs San Jac, IWCC at tourney | KTIC Radio

WNCC volleyball downs San Jac, IWCC at tourney

WNCC volleyball downs San Jac, IWCC at tourney
Larissa Perez and Kaylee Speier go up for a block in the San Jacinto match. WNCC won both matches on Saturday to move to 6-0. (Courtesy Photo).

The 2nd-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team knew they had to play at the top of their game this weekend at the Reiver Invite at Iowa Western Community College.

That they did as the Cougars put together a couple gutsy performances Saturday in registering 5-set wins against San Jacinto College (25-22, 20-25, 15-25, 25-21, 15-7) before taking out No. 4 Iowa Western Community College (25-23, 16-25, 25-18, 16-25, 15-13).

The wins pushed WNCC’s record to 6-0 that saw the Cougars finish the Reiver Invite at 4-0, including topping No. 1 College of Southern Idaho and Highland Community College on Friday.

WNCC head coach Binny Canales was pleased with how his team played with different players coming up big at different times all day.

“We have a happy and tired bunch of girls,” Canales said. “And it sure makes the trip a lot easier [coming home] when you win like that. They have accomplished so much and they worked so hard. They have a lot to smile about.”

Indeed, the players do. Canales said they played their hearts out to get two quality wins against two teams that will be vying for a national title in San Jacinto and Iowa Western.

“We started to get things together in the matches as we were changing our line up trying to make something fit,” he said. “The girls stepped up and played well. A lot of the kids played over their heads. They did a lot of things that they haven’t done before and it is really a proud moment to see them do that.”

San Jacinto and Iowa Western were no push overs on this Saturday either.

“It is great to beat teams like this,” he said. “San Jacinto is very well coached and they have done a wonderful job of recruiting and getting the players prepared. Iowa Western is top notch. They are really solid.”

It showed how talented the oppositions were on Saturday. Against San Jacinto, the Cougars captured the first game 25-22 before dropping the next two 25-20 and 25-15 to face a 2-1 deficit. With the Cougar’s backs to the wall, the players responded, capturing game four 25-21 and then picking up the deciding game 15-7.

Canales said things just fell into place in the crucial, final two games.

“We made some choices that we thought would work and things fell into place,” he said. “When we got into a snag, Coach Whit {assistant coach Whitney Roth] and I would talk and we [made some changes]. It was an overall good team win for the whole team.”

WNCC finished with 55 total kills against San Jacinto with three players hitting double-digits. Lara Picht paced the team with 15 kills followed by Barb Briceno with 14 and Brooke Kaawa with 12. Joise Maldonado finished with seven kills while Kaylee Spreier had five.

Briceno also finished with two solo blocks, two aces, five points, and 23 dugs, while Kaawa had two aces and 13 digs.

Also for the Cougars, Genesis Benitez-Fontanez had 21 digs; Bia Berta had 36 set assists and eight digs; Spreier had seven points and two digs; Picht four digs; Kirstee Trees six digs; and Kadara Marshall with two kills and a dig.

The Iowa Western match was a battle between two top five teams with WNCC battling tooth and nail with the host team.

In the first game, the Cougars trailed 14-9 at one time before coming back to register the 25-23 win. IWCC bounced back with the 25-16 win in game two only to watch the Cougars respond with a 25-18 win in game three behind a big service run by Spreier.

WNCC couldn’t close out the match in game four, despite leading 12-11 at one time. The Reivers leading 18-15, put together a five-point run to jump on top 23-15 before winning 25-16 win, forcing a fifth set.

The fifth set was intense. WNCC grabbed a 2-0 lead behind two Benitez-Fontanez service points and went on to lead 12-8 at one time behind three Benitez-Fontanez points. The Reivers came back to tie the game at 13 before a WNCC time out. WNCC answered after the time out with two points to grab the win.

WNCC finished the match with 57 kills. Kaawa led the way with 18 kills followed by Picht with 15, and Briceno with 14. Spreier also chipped in nine while hitting .368 for the match.

Benitez-Fontanez tallied 22 digs, while Berta had 54 set assists with 14 digs.

Other dig leaders included Picht with eight, Briceno with 15, Kaawa with 14, Spreier and Marshall with four each.

WNCC, 6-0, will have another tough tourney next weekend when they travel to Salt Lake City where they will face College of Southern Idaho, Salt Lake, Snow College, and Northwest College.

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