The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team won its fifth straight with a workmanlike win over Casper College Tuesday evening at Cougar Palace.
WNCC, who entered the contest ranked 19th in the nation when the NJCAA polls came out on Monday, needed four sets to down a scrappy Casper squad 23-25, 25-11, 26-24, 25-18 to improve to 16-5 on th4e season.
“I think the first set we definitely weren’t playing our best and to our potential,” Anabelle Gillen, who finished with 11 points, said. “But, right after that we knew what we had to do. Coach was talking to us and we just had to execute and get the ball down.”
The first-set loss was an eye-opener against a Casper squad that is much better than their 4-18 record. Gillen said they knew they had to pick it up after falling 25-23 in the first set and they did, winning the second set 25-11.
“We knew the game wasn’t going to be given to us in the first place and we had to work for it,” she said. “After the first set, it really showed.”
WNCC led 11-7 in the first before Casper[s Kylie Watson went on a 6-point service run to put the Thunderbirds up 14-11. WNCC came back to lead 22-18 on three Leslie Mamai-Lagafuaina service points. Torrington’s Hailey Anderson came back with a 6-point service run to finish the set 25-22 and give Casper the win.
WNCC responded in a heartbeat in the second set as Torrington’s Adia Sherbeyn started things for the Cougars with an ace and then had two more points behind Karen Cordero’s two kills for a 3-0 lead. Ana Costas added three more service points for a 7-1 lead. Gillen later added three points and a 19-8 lead before Mamai-Lagafuaina finished off the set with three points and the 25-11 win.
The third set was back and forth with neither team holding more than a two point lead. Cordero put the Cougars up 15-13 with two service points and a backrow kill. Casper came back to go up 21-19 before Cordero came back with three points and Mamai-Lagafuaina had the final two service points as Luisa Beining hammered home the final kill for the 26-24 win.
Casper led 11-9 in the fourth set before a Cordero kill and then six Gillen points pushed the Cougars to a 16-11 lead. WNCC went up 22-17 before Gillen served the final two points for the win.
Cordero had a double-double in the match with 14 kills and 13 points. She also had three aces and two digs. Mamai-Lagafuaina almost had a double-double with 12 kills, nine points, four solo blocks, three assisted blocks, and three aces.
Gillen finished with 11 points and five digs, while Ana Costas had 13 digs, eight points, and two aces. Sherbeyn tallied five digs and three points, while Oliva Transfiguracion had 43 sets assists. Also for WNCC, La’Treva Kennedy had eight kills, Gabriela Canavati had five kills, Beining had five kills and two digs. And Olivia Schaub a kill.
WNCC, 16-5, will be back in action this weekend when they begin conference play on the road at Trinidad State Junior College on Friday and Otero Junior College on Saturday.
Gillen said they need to enter the conference openers with confidence.
“We have to be confident,” the Mitchell graduate said. “We have to know what we are going into there to do and execute. We can’t be scared and not be scared to mess up. We have to go in there to win and not to lose.”