Cougars have home opener against Casper Tuesday
The No. 1 ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team will be making their home debut after an impressive opening weekend Tuesday night when they face Casper College.
First serve for the Cougars, 4-0, and Casper, 1-2, will be at 7 p.m. The contest will be a match-up of two teams that competed at the national tournament a year ago.
Luiza Martins said the team is looking forward to the home contest after opening up this weekend in impressive style at the Reiver Classic in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
"I think we are all excited for the first home match," the sophomore setter said. "I think when we played this weekend, it showed we are in the right spot right know but we need to keep practicing and keep getting better. Tomorrow [Tuesday] we will show the public that we are here and we are working hard."
The Cougars opened the season with four impressive wins over the weekend, topping No. 2 Iowa Western Community College in four games, No. 4 San Jacinto College in three straight, and taking down No. 6 Salt Lake Community College in five sets.
Martins said this weekend showed them what they need to work on to get even better.
"It is really good being 4-0 over the weekend and it shows us that we are capable of doing it," she said. "We just need to practice to get better."
WNCC will face a Casper team that played well in its first tournament of the season at College of Southern Idaho. The T-Birds topped Utah State-College of Eastern Utah in five games 28-26, 22-25, 25-21, 19-25, 15-10, before falling to Snow College 25-19, 25-23, 25-23, and defending national champion College of Southern Idaho 25-22, 25-14, 25-21.
Casper will be led by freshman Madison Legerski of Laramie, who is averaging 2.82 kills a game and 1.55 digs a game. Also proving to be one of Casper's go to hitters are sophomore Rahnee Jackson at 1.91 kills a game and freshman Kira Schafer at 1.89 a game. Schafer is a 5-foot-10 freshman from Schwerte, Germany, while Jackson is 5-5 from Casper.
The Cougars also have a potent lineup after this weekend. Leading the charge are the two setters, Martins and sophomore Morgan Broussard. Martins said the 6-2 offense that the Cougars run now is paying dividends for the team.
"Running the 6-2 offense is really good for us because we have three hitters all the time up front, she said. "[What this really does] is we will have three hitters at the net all the time and at least more two more in the back. It gives us more hitters and more power. "
The Cougars flashed plenty of front row power in the four matches this weekend. In the San Jacinto win, sophomore Lindsay Wehkamp had 16 assisted blocks in the match. Freshman Kylie Fa'amoe also played strong on the front with an average of nine assisted blocks a match.
The Cougars are quite deep at hitters as well. Besides Wehkamp, sophomore Priscila Mendes and Allora Tanner came up with big hitting performances over the weekend. Tanner led the team in kills with 11 against Barton.
Several freshmen have also stepped up, including 5-10 Kayla Martin, who had 13 kills in a five-game win against Salt Lake on Saturday. Martin also had 11 points, seven digs, and three aces in the win.
A big key for the Cougars was finding a libero and freshman Rachael McCracken has stepped In that roll nicely. The 5-7 defensive stalwart from Weldona, Colo., finished with 24 digs in the win against Salt Lake. More importantly, though, McCracken has come up big in the serving department, where she had five aces in the Salt Lake win, including four in the row during a crucial junction of the match.
After Tuesday's home opener, the Cougars will hit the road for four matches in Salt Lake City, where they will face North Idaho College, Snow College, No. 8 Missouri State-West Plains, and No. 3 College of Southern Idaho. WNCC will then take on Eastern Wyoming in Torrington on Sept. 3.
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