Cougars finish perfect opening weekend

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – The No. 1 ranked Western Nebraska Community College made it a perfect weekend at the Reiver Classic, capturing all four matches over the weekend.

After earning wins Friday against No. 2 Iowa Western Community College and No. 4 San Jacinto College, the Cougars stepped it on Saturday in earning a 25-20, 25-10, 25-20 sweep over Barton Community College and then earned a heart-pounding, come-from-behind five-set win over No. 6 Salt Lake Community College 15-25, 25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 15-13.

Freshman Kayla Martin, who tallied 13 kills and 11 points in the win against Salt Lake, said they played with plenty of heart to go 4-0 over the weekend.

"We played with our hearts. We had our ups and downs but we finished strong in the end," she said. "I couldn't have asked for a better way to start off the season with these four wins and it felt like a great accomplishment just knowing how much work we put in at practice every day."

The Salt Lake contest was a classic battle and plenty of players came up clutch. Martin said both teams wanted the win and it was the will of the Cougars at the end that gave them the win.

"The Salt Lake game was really intense just because both teams wanted that win," she said. "But we wanted that win worse."

It didn't start out too promising for the Cougars as they dropped the first game 25-15. They rebounded with passion to claim the next two sets 25-21, 25-19. Salt Lake took the fourth 25-22 before the Cougars managed the fifth set 15-13.

It was the fight they showed against Salt Lake that made Martin excited for the season.

"I think that we are a very strong group of girls that play well together," she said. "We just need to have to communicate a little better and trust in each other a little more and then we will be unstoppable this season."

The Salt Lake match had several players that stepped up. Martin finished with 13 kills, 11 points, three aces, seven digs, and two blocks. Priscila Mendes also had a bit offensive match, finishing with 14 kills. She also added five blocks, three points, and eight digs.

Also for the Cougars, Leticia Silva had three kills, four blocks, and three points; Lindsay Wehkamp had six blocks and four points; Kylie Fa'amoe had two kills and nine blocks; Allora Tanner had nine kills and six blocks; Luiza Martins had 24 set assists and five digs; Morgan Broussard had 11 set assists, five points and three digs; Rachael McCracken had seven points, five aces, and 24 digs[ and Kasey Lafitaga had three digs.

WNCC was quite impressive with their depth in the opening match against Barton, where they received balanced output. Tanner led the way with 11 kills, three blocks, four points, and two digs; while Martin finished with eight kills, 11 points, two aces, and four digs.

Also for the Cougars, Silva had four kills and five blocks; Wehkamp had three kills, seven blocks, and seven points; Mendes had two kills and three digs; Fa'amoe had three kills and four blocks; Gabriela Varela had three kills; Broussard had three blocks, 15 set assists, and two points; Martins had 10 set assists and three digs; McCracken had 19 digs and three points; and Lafitaga had two digs.

WNCC, 4-0, will be back in action Tuesday when they host Casper College. First serve is set for 7 p.m. After that, they will compete in the Salt Lake tournament where they will face more ranked teams, including defending NJCAA national champions College of Southern Idaho, who defeated the Cougars last year for the title.

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