STERLING, Colo. – In a top 15 showdown, the No. 11 Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team captured their 16th win of the season with a four-set, South Sub-region win over No. 14 Northeastern Junior College Saturday evening in Sterling, Colorado.
The Cougars went to 2-0 in the South Sub-region with the impressive 26-24, 25-16, 20-25, 25-22 win over the Plainswomen.
Andrea Tsvetanova, who had two key setter kills in the second set, said this was a big win for the team.
“I’m really proud with everyone on the team,” the sophomore setter said. “We knew that it wouldn’t be an easy game and we had to push hard from the beginning if we wanted to win this game. In my opinion, the team played really well in the first two sets and we were dominating all the time. We managed to do this by being a team and playing for each other and the coaches.”
The way the team played in the first two sets was vital, as the Cougars’ offense kept the NJC offense and defense out of system. Tsvetanova said the energy they brought was key to the quick start.
“The key for the win today was the energy and the motivation we had for sure because we really wanted to prove that we can beat everyone,” she said. “Something really important that we did today was that we played as a team and we fought until the end.”
NJC is not an easy place to play because of the environment of crowd noise. Even with a limited fanbase because of the COVID precaution, it was loud.
“Something that stands out for the team is the energy we had during the game because we managed to deal with the crowd and stay focused even through all the comments we had and the external noise as well which was very important for our win today,” Tsvetanova said. “We still need to work a lot and improve every day as a team team.”
WNCC had plenty of offensive power in the win with some nice defense against last year’s Region IX champions.
WNCC had three with double digit kills. Karen Cordero led the team with 19 kills. She also had 13 digs with seven points and two solo blocks. Anuhea Kaohi tallied 13 kills with four digs, while Olivia Schaub had 12 kills.
WNCC committed just 20 hitting errors in the four sets and most of them came in the third set in which they lost.
The first set saw the two ranked teams tied five times, but WNCC never trailed in the match. The two teams were knotted at 10-10 when Tsvetanova had two service points. NJC cut the deficit to one, 13-12, but a Cordero kill and three Alex Hernandez points put WNCC up 17-12.
WNCC went up 21-17 after two Macey Boggs points and led 23-19 on a Schaub kill. NJC battled back, tying the set at 24-24. WNCC got a sideout and then Hernandez got a kill to give the Cougars the 26-24 win.
WNCC trailed just once in set two at 1-0. Kaohi tied the game at one and then Hernandez had two points for a 3-1 lead. WNCC doubled up NJC at 10-5 with two Gillen points and led 18-12 on a Hernandez kill. Tsvetanova pushed the Cougars lead to 21-13. Angel Nahinu got a kill to make it 24-15 and then Boggs served the final point along with a hammering kill by Schaub to give the Cougars the 2-0 set lead.
The third set saw WNCC lead 1-0 but NJC came back with a quick 4-1 lead and doubled up the Cougars at 18-9. WNCC tried to make a comeback as they sliced the lead to 20-16 on a Boggs’ ace serve, but NJC fought back to lead 23-16. NJC won the third 25-20.
The fourth set started out back and forth early. WNCC led 6-3 after two Boggs points but NJC came back to grab a 7-6 lead. Fukamoto put WNCC back on top with two points at 9-7 and WNCC widened the lead to 15-11 with a Laura Ferrao kill. WNCC led 18-13 before the Plainswomen went on a 18-17 service run.
Schaub stopped the run with a kill and Tsvetanova had two points to put WNCC up 22-18. NJC cut the lead to 22-20. Kaohi had two kills to make it 24-21 and went on to win 25-22.
WNCC also received a triple-double from Tsvetanova with 50 set assists, 16 digs, 10 points, three aces, and three kills.
Hernandez had a near double-double, finishing with 15 digs, eight kills, seven points, and four aces. Gillen had six digs and three points while Boggs had seven points and three aces.
Also for the Cougars, Angel Nahinu had two kills and a solo block; Laura Ferrao had two kills; and Fukamoto had six digs and six points.
WNCC will be back in action this weekend when they hit the road for two South Sub-region contests when they face Otero Junior College on Friday and then Trinidad State Junior College Saturday afternoon.