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WNCC volleyball earns No. 4 seed at nationals

WNCC volleyball earns No. 4 seed at nationals
(Photo courtesy of WNCC)

The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team earned the No. 4 seed for next week’s NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The Cougars open play Thursday at 2 p.m. (MST) against No. 13 New Mexico Military Institute. WNCC enters the national tournament with a 32-6 record while New Mexico Military is 28-11.

WNCC coach Binny Canales said he is OK with the seed.

“I am happy with it. There are a lot of great teams in the tournament and we are happy where we are at,” he said. “We have to prepare for New Mexico Military and make sure we take care of things on our side of the net.”

The Cougars and New Mexico Military have faced each other only five times previously with WNCC holding a 5-0 record.

Canales said he doesn’t know much about New Mexico Military, but will try to found out information.

“I have not seen them all year and I haven’t seen them a couple years,” he said. “We have to find information on them quick.”

What is known about New Mexico Military is they have four players six foot or taller, including 6-foot-2 Mirna Kovacevic of Serbia, 6-1 Hannah Davis of Herriman, Utah; 6-0 Megan Martinez of El Paso, Texas, and  McKayla Landreth of Summerville, South Carolina. Davis leads the team in kills with 307 while Landreth is next in line with 207.

The Broncos earned their second-consecutive trip to the national tournament by defeating Midland College 25-22, 25-16, 25-22 in the Region X West tournament. NMMI has won eight straight since an Oct. 13 loss to San Jacinto College. During that stretch, the Broncos dropped just one set while winning seven of the matches in sweeps.

WNCC earned its 19th straight trip to national tournament with a five-set win over Northeastern Junior College 24-26, 21-25, 25-12, 25-21, 15-9 on Saturday. The Cougars enter the national tournament as the longest active streak of competing at the national tournament. The streak start back in 1999 under former head coach Chris Green.

Canales said the focus for the first-round contest is on themselves.

“We will prepare as best as we can, but we are going to look at our side of the court and try to stay in system, serve tough and take them out of system, and let the best team win,” he said.  One advantage to playing one of the last matches of the first round is the match time is around the Cougars’ practice time.

“The game time is fine,” Canales said. “It is around our practice time so we are used to playing around that time. Right now we are going to go and try to represent the school, Scottsbluff, Gering, and handle it the best that we can.”

WNCC was one of the top four seeds. Defending national champion Miami Dade, who has a 30-0 record, earned the top seed followed by Iowa Western Community College (37-1) and then College of Southern Idaho (28-3).

Laramie County Community College, who won the Region IX North title, earned the No. 11 seed and will battle No. 6 Mineral Area, Missouri. LCCC is 32-6 on the season while Mineral Area is 34-0.

The tournament runs through Saturday, November 18.

NJCAA National Tourney First Round

No. 3 Southern Idaho (38-3) vs. No. 14 Eastern Arizona (22-8)

No. 6 Mineral Area (34-0) vs. No. 11 Laramie County (32-6)
No. 7 Tyler, Texas (19-9) vs. No. 10 St. Petersburg (17-5)

No. 2 Iowa Western (37-1) vs. No. 15 Hutchinson (27-12)

No. 1 Miami Dade (30-0) vs. No. 16 Wallace State (34-8)
No. 8 Panola, Texas (25-6) vs. No. 9 Polk State (Fla.) (17-8)

No. 4 Western Nebraska (32-6) vs. No. 13 New Mexico Military (28-11)
NO. 5 Hill (Texas) (26-1) vs. Monroe (N.Y.) (20-9)

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