The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team captured their seventh straight with a sweep over Trinidad State Junior College 25-15, 25-18, 25-15 in a Region IX South Conference match Saturday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
The win moves the Cougars to 21-7 overall but more importantly keeps the Cougars on top of the South sub-region standings at 7-1. Northeastern Junior College is second in the conference at 6-2. WNCC and NJC will hook up in a key sub-region contest on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Cougar Palace.
Amryi-Grace Paris, who led the team with 10 kills in the win over Trinidad, said they played alright, but could have played better.
“We played good. I think it was better than last night’s game [Friday against Lamar],” the freshman from Hawaii said. “We fixed most of the mistakes that we needed to, so today we did alright. We can do better but it was good.”
It was the third match in three days for the Cougars, but playing that many matches in a short time is something they need to get used to since the Region IX tournament is just weeks away. WNCC played really well in a four-set win over Otero on Thursday and then just so-so in Friday’s win.
The big key, however, is staying strong and playing with a lot of energy. Since the loss to Otero a couple weeks ago, the Cougars are on a 7-match winning streak and they are coming together.
“When we lost to Otero, everyone dispersed and started playing as individuals and not as a team. but after Thursday’s win, we all came back we came back and playing as a team,” Paris said.
A big reason for the win streak is the energy they bring to the court.
“It is very important [to play with energy] because once the energy is shut down, everybody lets up especially during important matches,” Paris said. “Energy always has to be there because it brings everyone up and it helps everyone.
The energy level was up for most of the match. WNCC started the first set on a mission, grabbing a 12-4 lead after Kaile Tuisamatatele 5-point service run. Trinidad did cut the lead to 13-9, but WNCC forged ahead 23-11 on three Camille Esselin points and won the first set 25-15.
Strong early serving was the case in the second set. WNCC led 10-2 after Enna Masaki served six points, including two ace serves. WNCC led 17-6 at one time before the Trojans came back to within 19-12. WNCC won the second 25-18.
The third set was identical to the first two with WNCC putting together three, early service runs. Masaki had one to push the early lead to 5-1 followed by Esselin forging the Cougars in front 8-2. Later it was Tuisamatatele with a 6-point run for a 15-3 lead and then Adia Sherbeyn got into the hot serving with four points and a 20-7 lead. WNCC won the third set and the match on an Aloni Jordan kill.
Saturday’s win was a team effort with plenty of players contributing. WNCC finished with 39 kills in the 3-set win. Paris led the way with10 kills followed by Tuisamatatele with eight, Masaki and Gaby Canavati with six each, and Leslie Mamai-Lagafuaina with five. Paris had two solo blocks, while Mamai-Lagafuaina and Santana Monroe each had one.
Masaki and Tuisamatatele led in serving with 12 points each, followed by Jayme Commins with six, Sherbeyn with five, and Ana Costas with four. Masaki and Tuisamatatele each had three aces, while Sherbeyn and Costas had one.
Commins led the way in the assist category with 24 while Masaki had five.
WNCC is hoping to carry that same kind of energy and winning success into Wednesday’s key sub-region contest with NJC, where the sub-region title is up for grabs. If WNCC wins Wednesday, they will win the South sub-region.
Paris said they need to keep playing like they have.
“We just have to come out harder,” she said. “We played them last week and we did alright against them, but for me there is stuff I need to work on like my blocking and hitting control. As for everyone else, we just need to do what we came to do and keep fighting and play hard.”