Three more Cougars to play at the next level

Rivera in action at nationals

The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team has sent three more members off the 2012 team onto the next level.

Kat Agson and Alex Rivera will be playing next year at the Division I level after recently signing letter of intents with Southern Illinois University. Taylor VanderWerff also inked to continue her playing days at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, a Division II school.

The latest three signings make four players from last year's 40-3 and national tournament runner-up team that will be playing next year at the next level. Danika Youngblood is the fourth, who is currently attending Division I Cal State Bakersfield University.

Agson and Rivera are excited to be going together to Southern Illinois and are ready for the next level. Southern Illinois plays in the competitive Missouri Valley Conference.

"I am so happy to play with Kat," Rivera said. "It was really hard when I came here [two years ago] because I didn't know anyone. Next year won't be as hard and it really makes me happy."

Agson said that the two were actually being recruited by several of the same schools, so the chances the two would be playing together for another two years was in their favor.

"We went on our visit together so that helped in the process of choosing a school," she said. "We actually were recruited by the same schools so either way we probably would have ended up as the same program.

Both had outstanding careers at WNCC. Rivera leaves WNCC as one of the top five all-time dig leaders. Rivera is fourth all-time in season kills with 682 and is third all-time with 1,224 digs. She also finished with 51 aces a year ago.

Rivera had a season high 28 digs in a win against Miami Dade College last year. She also had 27 digs against Salt Lake Community College, and 26 digs against North Idaho College.

Agson played just one year at WNCC, but finished with 266 kills and earned Region IX all-tournament honors.

Both agree that WNCC was beneficial in their volleyball careers.

"I think coming here has helped me not only in my skills but also my mental game," Rivera said. "My game has gotten better and I don't regret my decision two years ago coming here and I appreciate it."

For Agson, her volleyball skills improved immensely.

"I think I learned the most here just because of the coaching and the great staff they have," she said. "There were a lot of experienced players and I learned a lot from them."

The two know, however, that it won't be easy at Southern Illinois and they will need to work hard for playing time.

"The way they run the program is pretty much the same as Coach Gi's, so I think we both are ready for the next level and I think we will do great things," Rivera said. "I am competing with two other defensive specialists, who are both freshmen. We just have to go and show our game and compete every time like we do here."

VanderWerff will also be reuniting with an old teammate when she attends Southwestern Oklahoma State. Alyssa Olson, who played for WNCC two years ago and was roommates with VanderWerff, is also at Southwest Oklahoma State. She is excited to meet up with her good friend.

"I am going to Southwest Oklahoma State University and I choice to go there because the coach is really great and is a very personable," she said. "I like the girls and there is a former player there so it will be nice to play with her again. I think it will be a great program to go into."

VanderWerff finished with a .240 hitting efficiency as a on and off starter. VanderWerff said her game has improved in the two years here, which helped her get to the next level.

"I definitely have learned different aspects," she said. "I have learned to become a better volleyball player, a better person, and just how to become a great team member. I contribute that to my team and my coaches."

VanderWerff said she is prepared for the next level because the volleyball program at WNCC is not your typical junior college program, it is run like a four-year program and that gets the players ready for the next level.

"I think [coming here] definitely did help prepare me because we don't run typical junior college plays," she said. "We are held to a high standard and we are pushed to be able to be prepared for anything."

All three said that leaving WNCC will be hard because they have made so many friendships. Agson said the year she spent here was rewarding.

"I was prepared to only be here for a year so I didn't think it would be hard to leave," she said. "But it actually is hard to leave because I created a bond with like everybody and not just the people in athletics but the community."

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