Halloween delivered a trick instead of a treat to the 17th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball as the McCook Community College Indians received the treat with a five-set win over the Cougars 25-21, 15-25, 15-25, 25-19, 15-10 Thursday night at Cougar Palace.
The loss drops the Cougars to 25-7 on the season and 8-2 in conference play to wrap up the regular season. McCook moves to 22-10 overall and 6-4 in conference play.
Gabriela Canavati, one of the four sophomores recognized on before the game, said this was a game this team can learn from.
“We are going to take it [the loss] as a learning lesson and use it as a boost for regionals,” Canavati said. “We definitely will bounce back.”
Canavati said they started slow, but played well the second and third sets. The last two sets was back to the first.
“I thought we weren’t rusty, but we were overwhelmed with everything and not consistent,” she said. “We did good a couple sets but we didn’t stick to our system and it showed. It is important that we stay with our system and we trust Coach Binny and his program and what he wants to do. We should be fine if we do that.”
It was an unfortunate loss for the Cougars, especially on sophomore recognition night, but this Halloween belonged to a McCook team that dug deep defensively and won the last two sets for the match.
It was the first win for the Indians over the Cougars since 1994. WNCC had won 58 straight matches over the Indians since that mid-1990 defeat. WNCC owns the series record at 85-16.
WNCC led the first set 4-3 but then McCook went on a scoring run to lead 8-4 and never looked back to get the win.
The second and third set was all Cougars. WNCC led by a slim 7-6 margin and finally put some distance in the score when Alex Hernandez served three points for a 19-11 lead. WNCC went up double digits on two Anabelle Gillen points and won 25-15 on a Luisa Beining kill.
WNCC played strong in the third set, too, grabbing a 16-9 lead and then led 20-12 after three Gillen points. WNCC won the set 25-15 on a Canavati kill.
The fourth set was nip and tuck between the two teams. The set was tied at 7-7 but WNCC never could get a lead as it was sideout and sideout between the two teams. McCook won the fourth 25-19 to force a fifth set.
WNCC led 4-2 in the fifth, but McCook came back to grab a 5-4 lead. The Cougars tied it at 5-5 on a Cordero kill, but McCook answered with three points, two of which were aces, for a 9-5 lead. McCook went on to win the fifth 15-10.
WNCC committed 23 service errors in the loss. A pair of Cougars had double-digit kills. Karan Cordero led the team with 19 kills while Leslie Mamai-Lagafuaina had 12 kills. Canavati also popped down nine, while Luisa Beining had five, Alex Hernandez with six, and La’Treva Kennedy with three.
The Cougars had nine different players score a point as well. Hernandez led the way with 10 points while Cordero had nine, Anabelle Gillen with seven, Canavati with four, Andrea Tsvetanova had three, and Ana Costas and Mamai-Lagafuaina each had two.
Tsvetanova finished with 51 set assists along with five digs and three blocks. Costas tallied 18 digs while Adia Sherbeyn and Gillen each had six digs.
WNCC will look to rebound at the regional tournament that begins Wednesday in Sterling, Colorado. The Cougars will have a first-round bye.
Canavati said that the loss stings, but they can use it to a positive. And, for her two years here, it has been a blast.
“It was a bit emotional, but other than that, there is not much we could do,” Canavati said. “We should be fine.”