The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team recorded eight solo blocks and seven aces in sweeping past McCook Community College 25-19, 25-21, 25-15 in a Region IX South Conference match Monday night at Cougar Palace.
WNCC moves to 18-2 on the season with the win and are winners of their last 12 matches. The Cougars have also won 32 straight sets dating back to Sept. 5. Monday’s win was also the Cougars sixth match in five days and they will get back in action Tuesday when they travel to face Eastern Wyoming College at Torrington, Wyoming, with first serve set for 7 p.m.
Middle hitter Kaile Tuisamatatele said there is a lot of talent on this team and it is a privilege to be on this team
“We need every single person on the team to put in everything they got,” the freshman from Hawaii said. “I don’t think I have been on a team like this where everybody can get a kill and put it down.”
Monday night, it was a strong blocking game that helped the Cougars with eight solo blocks, led by two each from Aneta Faksova and Aloni Jordan. Faksova also had two assist blocks, while Tuisamatatele had a solo block and three assist blocks.
Syenna Masaki finished with a solo block and three assists, while Kadara Marshall and Jayme Commins each had a solo block, and Brooke Kaawa had two assist blocks.
Offensively, the Cougars tallied 37 kills, led by 10 from Sarena Bartley and eight each from Kaawa and Masaki, while Tuisamatatele finished with seven. Faksova, Jordan, Joise Maldonaldo, and Logan Belford all had a kill in the win as well.
A big reason for the win also was because of a lineup change during the Casper match back on Sept. 5 when Commins was moved to setter and Masaki moved to outside hitter. Since then, the Cougars have not dropped a set.
Tuisamatatele said Commins has been doing a good job, but it takes everyone to win.
“She has been doing really well. She has been working hard,” she said. “But it takes all of us to put in the work to have success.”
That is what they did against a scrappy McCook team that came into the contest at 11-9 and with a road record of 9-4.
McCook battled the Cougars in all three sets. WNCC held a slim 8-6 lead in the first and then pushed the lead to 17-10 on two Commins service points. After a McCook timeout, the Indians came storming back to pull to within 20-18. Genesis Benitez served three points for a 24-18 lead and then Commins recorded a solo block for the win.
The second set was identical to the first. WNCC held a 7-6 lead before Benitez had four points for a 12-6 lead. WNCC led 16-9 on a Belford kill and two Commins points. McCook called a timeout and sliced the lead to 20-18 and trailed 23-21 late before WNCC won the set 25-21.
The third set was close at 13-10 before a Masaki kill and four Kaawa sevice points pushed the lead to 18-10. This time a McCook timeout couldn’t get a run going for the Indians as Aloni Jordan finished the match with a kill and a solo block for the win.
WNCC’s Benitez finished with a double-double in the match with 11 points and 13 digs. Benitez also had four aces. Commins finished with 35 set assists along with six points, while Kaawa had five points and ace.
Masaki tallied two points with two aces and 11 points, while Kirstie Trees had three points, an ace serve, and six digs.
WNCC will finish off the rugged stretch of matches on Tuesday against a EWC team that went 2-2 in the Wyo-Braska Invite over the weekend. The two Highway 26 teams have faced each other twice this season. Tuisamatatele said they have to come ready to play. After Tuesday, the Cougars will be off nine days off before their next match.
“We just can’t underestimate them,” Tuisamatatele said. “I know we played them before and we have to keep going, keep pushing. We just need to go out there and have fun and do what we do in playing the sport that we love.”