Youngblood powers Cougars to 19th straight win
Danika Youngblood powered home 12 kills and the second-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team captured their 19th straight victory with a 25-13, 25-19, 25-19 sweep over Trinidad State Junior College on Saturday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
The Cougars, who also captured their 25th win of the season for the 16th straight year, moved to 4-0 in conference play.
Lauren Knox, who finished with 11 points, nine digs and six kills, said it was a contest where the team played just OK.
"We were really good in the first game but then we let it go," the freshman from Broomfield, Colo., said. "But we definitely kept playing as a team and I feel like we did fine."
What was the big key in Saturday's match was the fact the team stayed focused and never let a Trinidad run get to them. In the end, the Cougars' depth, once again, played out. Knox said everything is starting to come together.
"We are finally becoming a team. We are playing together and we all have each other's backs," she said. "I feel the strength is that everybody has their own strength to bring but all together, we are just a good team."
There is no doubting that the Cougars are a good team, especially after moving to 25-2 on the season and have swept their last eight opponents. In fact, the Cougars have won their last 27 straight sets the last time they lost was on Sept. 20 as Western Wyoming Community College won the first set.
Saturday, the Cougars stayed strong throughout. In the opening set, both teams were tied at 6-6 before strong serving and timely hitting pushed the lead to 15-9 on a Yoro Tovar kill. WNCC kept hammering the ball as Youngblood, Priscila Mendes, Kat Agson and Tovar each had kills and Alex Rivera served the final five points for the 25-13 win.
The second set started out identical as both teams were knotted at 6-6 on a Allison Rosas ace. But a kill by Youngblood and then four service points by Knox pushed the score to 11-6. WNCC went up 18-10 on a Youngblood ace service and WNCC went on to win 25-19.
WNCC struggled somewhat in the third set as Trinidad State came out of the 10-minute intermission with a purpose. The Trojans grabbed an 11-8 lead on two points by Kaylee Johnson before the Cougars came back on three points by Luiza Martins for a 14-12 lead.
Trinidad came back to grab an 18-17 lead on a Rosas point, but a Knox kill stopped the rally. Knox then served four straight points, including a punishing back-row kill for a 22-19 lead. WNCC came back as Rivera serviced the final two points for the win.
The Cougars had three players finish with double doubles. Youngblood finished with four points, 12 kills and 10 digs; while Rivera had 17 digs, 11 points, and three aces. Martins also collected a double-double with 15 digs, 32 set assists, five points, and three kills.
Also for the Cougars, Mendes had four kills; Tovar had nine kills, two blocks, three digs, and three points; Kat Agson had three kills and two blocks; Tasha Meyer had seven digs and four points; Megan Johnson had five kills and two blocks; and Allora Tanner had four kills.
WNCC, who has had nine straight home matches over the past two weeks, will return to action Tuesday when they travel to Torrington, Wyo., to face Eastern Wyoming College. The team will then have seven days off before facing Western Wyoming Community College on Oct. 8 in Rock Springs, Wyo..
Knox said they will use the break to get better as a team.
"I don't feel like we need the break, but we are going to enjoy it," she said. "We will take the time to get better in practice and be ready and more prepared for our next games. We just have to go into this next game with everything we have."
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