COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – The No. 6 Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team got back on the winning track with two wins Saturday at the Reiver Invite in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to finish the tournament 3-1 over the past two days.
WNCC opened Saturday with a five-set win over Hillsborough Community College, a team that swept No. 7 Indian Hills on Friday. Sophie Lau led the way for the Cougars with 18 kills in the 18-25, 26-24, 25-14, 19-25, 15-9 win.
The Cougars wrapped up the invitational with a sweep over Eastern Wyoming College 25-17, 25-18, 25-18. Brooke Kaawa led the Cougars with 10 kills in the Cougars third win on the young season.
WNCC coach Binny Canales was pleased with how the team played this weekend.
“We are happy with the weekend,” Canales said. “It was a great match with Iowa Western on Friday. They are a top-ranked team and it is always a great match with them and we look forward to playing them again in October.”
As for Saturday, the Cougars responded well from the five-set loss to Iowa Western Friday night.
“We played pretty well today,” Canales said. “The first match was a tough one. Hillsborough is pretty good and they beat Indian Hills in straight sets yesterday. They are really aggressive. The second match we played well. We made a few mental mistakes and played a lot of different lineups.”
A big key in the weekend matches was getting the players, especially the freshmen some game experience. That definitely was the case.
“They are picking it up and getting used to junior college volleyball,” Canales said. “That is all we can do. We just need to keep growing as a team. It is a great tournament to go to and we get to figure out where we are at right off the bat.”
Against Hillisborough, who received votes in the NJCAA pre-season poll, the Cougars fell behind and battled back. WNCC lost the first set 25-18 before capturing the second in thrilling fashion 26-24. WNCC took a 2-1 lead by taking the third set 25-14.
Hillsborough battled back to even the sets at 2-2 before WNCC won the fifth 15-9.
Lau had a big offensive match, finishing with 18 kills. Lau also had six points.
Kaawa finished the five-set win with a double-double, collecting 10 kills and 18 points, two solo blocks, eight digs, and six ace serves.
WNCC also received nine kills from Sarena Bartley, while Kaile Tuisamatatele had six kills, five points, and three digs.
Also for the Cougars, Syenna Masaki had 35 set assists, six points, and six digs; Jayme Commins had six assists and two three; Genesis Benitez had 18 digs and eight points; and Kirstee Trees had six digs and two points.
In the EWC win, the Cougars had balanced play throughout the lineups. Kaawa led the way with 10 kills six points, and four digs. Lau also tallied eight kills to go along with five digs. Tuisamatatele and Joise Maldonado each had three kills. Tuisamatatele collected two solo blocks.
Masaki finished with 26 set assists to go with two digs and five digs. Also for the Cougars, Aneta Faksova had two kills; Benitez tallied 11 digs and nine points; Lauren Shaul had four points and four digs; and Trees tallied three points, an ace serve, and four digs.
WNCC, 3-1, will have little time to relax as they return home to host Eastern Wyoming on Tuesday before hitting the road for a tournament at Barton Community College.
“We will get back, have a light practice on Monday and get ready for Tuesday and the weekend,” Canales said.