The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team had a team effort in rolling to a 25-20, 25-6, 25-16 over Eastern Wyoming College Friday in the first day of the Wyo-Braska Invite at Cougar Palace.
The Cougar played once on the day and will have two matches in the invite on Saturday when they face Dawson Community College at noon followed by Casper College at 4 p.m.
McCook Community College and Trinidad State Junior College also went through the first day undefeated. McCook, who lost to WNCC on Thursday, topped Dawson 25-21, 25-18, 25-15, before needing four sets to top Eastern Wyoming 25-19, 25-17, 12-25, 25-21.
Trinidad opened the invite with a 25-23, 22-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-11 win over EWC before going five sets with Dawson in winning 25-12, 25-22, 18-25, 24-26, 15-10.
WNCC coach Binny Canales was pleased with how his team played.
“A lot of people stepped up for us,” Canales said. “We are still banged up and we have people we are being extra careful with. The people that came in to play came in and did a good job.”
WNCC was hitting on all cylinders Friday night offensively, blocking, and serving.
“We are definitely happy with what a lot of the kids did,” Canales said. “They stepped up at different times. We served tough. We passed well. We stayed aggressive. Those were key today.”
WNCC, who was playing without Enna Masaki who had 24 kills Thursday night against McCook, had two players finish with double-digit kills. Gabby Canavati and Kaile Tuisamatatele each had 10 kills while Amryi-Grace Paris tallied eight.
What really stood out was the blocking.
“We blocked well. Leslie [Mamai-Lagafuaina] and Tui take command of the net,” Canales said. “We are thrilled about that. We are continuing to grow as a team.”
Mamai-Lagafuaina finished with three solo blocks, while Tuisamatatele had two solos and two assist blocks. Jayme Commins also got into the block party, finishing with a solo and assist block as did Canavati.
The other area that stood out for the Cougars was the service game. Camille Esselin pace the team with 14 service points with two aces. Esselin, the freshman from France, had a 12-point service run that brought the Cougars from a 12-10 deficit to a 23-12 lead.
Adia Sherbeyn also served up eight pints while Tuisamatatele and Canavati each had seven. Tuisamatatele had three aces.
Commins finished the game with 26 set assists and also had 10 digs. Esselin also had a double-double, finishing the game with a team-leading 12 digs. Ana Costas chipped in seven digs, Canavati five digs, and Sherbeyn six digs.
The tournament wraps up Saturday with six matches. Eastern Wyoming, who went 0-3 on Friday, will wrap up the tourney at 10 a.m. against Dawson Community College. WNCC and Dawson will battle at noon followed by Trinidad State and Laramie County Community College, followed by Casper and WNCC on court 1.
Court 2 action pits McCook taking on LCCC at noon followed by Casper and McCook at 2 p.m.
Canales said his team has to play like they did Friday.
“We have to stay aggressive, serve tough, take big swings, don’t get down on ourselves, and keep this energy,” he said.