Western Nebraska Community College volleyball players Sarena Bartley and Aloni Jordan both will be playing volleyball closer to home after inking with four-year schools Wednesday night.
Bartley of Ridgefield, Washington, is headed to NAIA Corban University in Salam, Oregon. Jordan, of St. Louis, Missouri, will be taking her talents to the Division II level after signing with East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.
Both players said they picked their respective schools because it was closer to home.
“I am going to Corban University in Oregon and it is closer to home since I am from Washington state,” Bartley, the Cougar outside hitter, said. “I wanted to go closer to home since when I first came here to Western Nebraska, I didn’t want to go too far from home, but I made a leap and took a chance to come out here. It also was a blessing to come here because I met so many friends and had a really good coaching staff and had a lot of fun here. I just wanted to go back home to be closer to my family and Corban is a great university and the girls are great.”
Jordan, who didn’t start playing volleyball until her freshman year, is grateful to get the chance to continue her volleyball career at another college.
“I decided to go to East Central because I liked the program and I liked the campus and it is closer to home than Scottsbluff, which is a plus,” Jordan said. “It is really exciting that I get to play volleyball because knowing where I came from and just starting to play volleyball from freshman year and knowing I accomplished this much in going to a good school like Western Nebraska is just humbling and also surprising I guess.”
Bartley will be joining a Corban team that went 23-13 a year ago and went 2-2 at the NAIA national tournament. Bartley said the chance to continue playing volleyball for another two years is the icing on the cake.
“I have loved playing volleyball since I started in the sixth grade,” Bartley said. “It is a good stress reliever and good to meet new friends. I am blessed to have this opportunity to go play.”
Bartley overcame an injury at the beginning of the season and came back to finish off the season on a positive note. After tallying 370 kills her freshman year in 40 matches, Bartley had 130 kills in 16 matches this past season. She finished her two years at WNCC with 500 kills and a hitting percentage of .244.
Bartley said she has improved in her two years here.
“I have improved a lot. I know when I came here I never had my left hand up and I still don’t, but I am getting there,” Bartley said with a laugh. “I know this year I came off an injury in the beginning of the year and that took me out most of the season. That was challenging and I had to pick it up when I was able to play again. So, it was hard, but I improved a lot coming here and I am glad I choose this school.”
Jordan was one of those players that filled in for players. She finished her career with 28 kills and a hitting percentage of .243. She also had 17 solo blocks in her 31 matches.
“I started playing volleyball my freshman year in high school and just getting to play at the collegiate level, especially this school, was a blessing,” Jordan said. “I have improved a lot because of Coach Binny [Canales] and the girls surrounding me. They helped improve me on and off the court. Hopefully I get to improve more at East Central.”
Both players said it is going to be hard leaving WNCC because of all the friends they made. Jordan said if WNCC was a 4-year school, she would be staying for four years because she hates change.
“I am the type of person that I don’t like change,” Jordan said. “Having to transfer I don’t like. I am going to miss all the people. But I am bound for change and welcoming it. If this was a 4-year school, I would stay of course. I wish it was a four-year, but it is what it is.”
As for Bartley, it will be hard to leave because the six sophomores will be all heading to different schools next year all across the United States to play.
“It will be difficult to see all them go elsewhere. I have had great relationships with every single one of them and it will be very difficult to leave,” she said starting to hold back the tears. “I just want to thank everyone from Coach Binny and Coach Paige and everyone that has been here for me and supporting me. I love every one of you.”