Cougars sweep McCook

Rachael McCracken finished with a double-double and the fourth-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team posted their 32nd win of the season with a 25-18, 25-19, 25-16 win Tuesday night at Cougar Palace.

McCracken finished the contest with 14 digs and 11 points. The freshman from Weldona, Colo., also had two aces. As a team, the Cougars finished with eight aces, led by Amanda Schoene with three aces and five points.

WNCC coach Giovana Melo said they played well enough to win, but just lacked energy after playing exceptionally well over the weekend.

"I thought this past weekend they did a pretty good job playing and playing with some energy," she said. "For some reason that didn't happen today. I just don't think this was our game. None of us were playing well and we were making errors that we don't make on a regular basis."

At the same time, Melo said that the team might have overlooked McCook a little bit, instead looking forward to Friday's home contest against sub-region rival Northeastern Junior College.

"I think they might have overlooked McCook a little bit," Melo said. "We really couldn't practice on Monday [because of the power outage at the college] and we didn't tough a volleyball until this morning and it was rough this morning, too. Sometimes I do think they walk in overlooking teams and they have to respect all the teams."

For sure serving was a big plus for the Cougars in registering their 21st sweep of the season. Besides McCracken's 11 points, Lindsay Wehkamp finished with nine points and two aces, Morgan Broussard had eight points and an ace, and Schoene and Priscila Mendes each had five points.

The Cougars also showed depth at the hitting position. Kayla Martin finished with nine kills to lead the team, while Mendes had eight, Gabriela Varela had six, Leticia Silva with five and two each from Kylie Fa'amoe and Schoene.

Another big key in the win for the Cougars was blocking, where WNCC finished with 13 solo blocks and 10 assisted blocks. Fa'amoe provided the big block up front, registering five solo blocks and three assisted blocks. Wehkamp also put down three blocks, while Martin and Varela each had two.

WNCC might have struggled, but McCook was playing well. The Indians registered 74 digs in the contest, led by Beth Helmink with 15 and Ashley Carrera with 13. Cerrera also led McCook with eight kills while Vanessa Bartilla had seven.

WNCC led from start to finish in the opening set, jumping to a 12-6 lead behind three points each from Mendes and Wehkamp. WNCC pushed the lead to 21-12 as McCracken had three points before capturing the set 25-18.

McCook came out in the second set and controlled the tempo early as Carrera had two service points. The Indians would lead 6-5 before WNCC started to take control behind two points from Broussard for an 8-6 lead. McCracken would then put on a four-point run for a 15-8 lead and they would go on to win 25-19.

The Cougars put on a serving show in the third set. Schoene put the Cougars in front 5-1 with four points, including three straight ace serves. After an ace serve from McCook's Emily Deines to cut the lead to 5-3, WNCC pushed the lead to 12-4 as Broussard had four points. McCracken would come through with an ace later for an 18-9 lead.

Schoene would get two more points for a 22-12 lead before Deines would serve up three points to slice the lead to 22-16. Martin would stop the rally with a kill and then Wehkamp would serve out the match for the 25-16 win.

WNCC (32-3) will wrap up the home portion of the season on Friday when they face Northeastern Junior College at 7 p.m. Both teams are unbeaten in south sub-region play and have yet to drop a set in conference play.

The match will also be the last for five sophomores as they will be honored. Playing their last match at Cougar Palace are Broussard, Wehkamp, Mendes, Martins, and Allora Tanner. Melo said it will be emotional, but hopes her team can stay unbeaten at home.

"It is a goal for this team to go undefeated at home and it is also sophomore night on Friday," she said. "So, it will be a little bit emotional for them but hopefully we can come out with a win."

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