GREAT BEND, Kan. — The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team split matches at the Barton Cougar Classic on Saturday in Great Bend, Kansas.
Sixth-ranked WNCC opened the day in falling to No. 7 Indian Hills Community College 25-18, 26-24, 25-19 before regrouping and earning a hard-fought, five-set win over Barton Community College 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 18-16 to move to 7-2 on the season.
WNCC coach Binny Canales said his team went through a lot of adversity in the weekend tournament and it was nice to see this team come together to get the five-set win against Barton.
“Right now, we are kind of banged up and coming through with wins is important,” he said. “The kids fought hard and they did some good things, but we still have to correct some errors. But, it was important to get the win against Barton. Barton is at home, they have the crowd with them, and it was a loud little gym. The girls fought hard and hopefully they grew from it.”
The Barton contest was a dogfight as Brooke Kaawa led the way with 18 kills followed by Sarena Bartley with 14.
Kirstie Trees, Genesis Benitez and Jayme Commins each had a double-double in the win. Benitez had 21 digs and 12 points, while Commins had 11 set assists and 10 points. Trees had 14 digs and 10 points. Commins also had five digs, while Benitez had three set assists.
Syenna Masaki had a good all-around match, finishing with 49 set assists, eight digs, six kills, four blocks, nine points, and three aces. Kaawa also had eight digs and five points, while Joise Maldonado and Kaila Tuisamatatele each had eight kills. Tuisamatatele also had four blocks, eight digs, and five points.
Also for the Cougars Kadara Marshall had two kills, and Aneta Faksava had seven kills and three blocks.
Canales said the way his team fought, especially in getting the 18-16 win in the fifth set, was huge. Both teams were tied at 14-14 in the final set before WNCC got the win.
“they fought and they went through a lot of adversity. They found a way,” he said. “To beat top teams we have to find a way. They know when the chips are down and things happen when things aren’t expected, we have to show composure and everybody did their part.”
In the opening match on Saturday, the Cougars fought hard but just couldn’t get over the hump.
Kaawa and Bartley led the way with nine kills each, while Maldonado tallied seve, Tuisamatatele with four, and Masaki with three. Masaki also had 23 set assists and eight digs, while Maldonado had three points.
Also for the Cougars in the loss, Benitez had 19 digs and five points; Trees had six digs, nine points, and two aces; and Lauren Shaul had two digs.
WNCC, 7-2, will be back in action Tuesday when they host Casper College at 6 p.m. The Cougars will then hit the road to compete in a tournament in Rangely, Colorado, next weekend.