The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team will be entering the Region IX tournament with a mission and that is to win their 20th straight regional tournament when action begins on Halloween at Storey Gym in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
WNCC, 24-9 on the season, have won 19 straight regional titles when the tournament format was divided into two tournaments, a north and a south with both champions making the national tournament.
The format this season is a little bit different with just one tournament with two teams making nationals in Hutchinson, Kansas, Nov. 15-17.
The format for the tournament might have changed, but the focus on winning a regional title is still the same. Jayme Commins, a sophomore setter from Ogallala, said the team is ready to go as this will be a major event for the Cougar team.
“This year is a big year for WNCC volleyball as it could be 20 years in a row of winning regionals,” she said.
The road to a regional tournament will not be easy as 12 teams will vie for a national tournament berth. For the Cougars, they enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed from the South while LCCC is the top seed from the North. The two top seeds have split matches on the season with each winning a five-setter.
Commins, who is averaging nine set assists a game, said it will take teamwork to accomplish success at regionals.
“We will have to really work as a team and come together to achieve success,” she said.
WNCC’s first contest will be Halloween afternoon at 1 p.m. when they face the winner of a play-in match between Sheridan and McCook. Sheridan and McCook will play at 10 a.m. with the winner playing WNCC at 1 p.m.
The other four play-in games with the winner advancing to the bracket portion of the tournament while the losers ending their season include Western Wyoming facing Trinidad State; Otero taking on Central Wyoming, and Lamar meeting Casper.
Those winners will face the top two seeds from the North and South in the quarterfinals.
This is where the bracket gets complicated. The first Region IX championship game will be played Friday at 4 p.m. between the two remaining winners of the eight teams that made bracket play. The winner of Friday’s title will win one Region IX championship and represent District C at nationals.
The other teams, who suffered a loss will drop to an elimination bracket with the winner of that bracket earning a berth at nationals representing District D as the other regional champion. That means, the team that loses on Friday will fall automatically into Saturday’s championship match at 4 p.m.
Sounds complicated, but in a sense, the top two teams still qualify for nationals.
Last year LCCC won the North and WNCC won the South regional tourney. The last team to win a regional title when all the teams were represented was Eastern Wyoming College in 1998 when they defeated Northeastern Junior College. That year only one team from Region IX qualified for nationals.
LCCC has never won a regional title when all the teams were represented while WNCC has garnered just one regional title in that format back in 1988. The Cougars did finish runner-up in this year’s format in 1986 and 1976.
The tournament will be played at Storey Gym in Cheyenne. Story Gymnasium is located at 2811 House Ave. Admission to the tournament includes a tournament pass for $40, adult one-day pass $15, student day pass $5, and children under 10 free.
Wednesday, Oct. 31
Match 1 — Western Wyoming vs. Trinidad, 8 a.m.
Match 2 — Otero vs. Central Wyoming, 8 a.m.
Match 3 — Sheridan vs. McCook, 10 a.m.
Match 4 — Lamar vs. Casper, 10 a.m.
Match 5 — WNCC vs. Sheridan/McCook winner, 1 p.m.
Match 6 — Northwest vs. Otero/Central winner, 3 p.m.
Match 7 – NJC vs. Western Wyoming/Trinidad winner, 5 p.m.
Match 8 – LCCC vs. Lamar/Casper winner, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 1
Match 9 – Losers of Match 5 and 6, 12 p.m.
Match 10 – Losers of Match 7 and 8, 2 p.m.
Match 11 – Winners of Match 5 and 6, 4 p.m.
Match 12 – Winners of Match 7 and 8, 6 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 2
Match 13 – Winner Match 9 vs. Loser Match 12, 12 p.m.
Match 14 – Winner Match 10 vs. Loser Match 11, 2 p.m.
Match 15 – Winners of Match 11 and 12, 4 p.m. – Region IX Championship 1
Winner will represent District C at nationals
Saturday, Nov. 3
Match 16 – Winner Match 13 vs. Loser Match 14, 12 p.m.
Match 17 – Winner Match 16 vs. Loser Match 15, 4 p.m. – Region IX Championship 2
Winner will represent District D at nationals