Third ranked Cougars sweep NJC

The third-ranked Western Nebraska Community College five sophomores made their last match at Cougar Palace a memorable one as the Cougars swept past No. 20 Northeastern Junior College 25-15, 25-17, 25-15 to remain unbeaten in South Sub-region play at 9-0.

WNCC sophomore Priscila Mendes finished with a double-double of 16 kills and 11 points. It was the sophomore from Brazil's season best kill total. Mendes had 15 straight kills without an error. On top of that, Mendes had two aces and two solo blocks.

But Mendes wasn't the only one playing well on Friday. The Cougars hit .313 as a team in the match. Leticia Silva finished with 11 kills while Kayla Martin had eight kills. Kylie Fa'amoe tallied five kills and four blocks, while Lindsey Wehkamp had four kills and four blocks. Allora Tanner, who sat out the last week to rest her knee, finished with three kills and two blocks.

The win also pushed the Cougars to 10-0 at home and the five sophomores – Morgan Broussard, Priscila Mendes, Allora Tanner, Lindsay Wehkamp, and Luiza Martins – made sure of the win with the heart they and the freshmen displayed on the court.

Gering's Broussard said it was a memorable night for them and the fans as they improved to 33-3 on the season. It was also the Cougars five straight sweep and the Cougars eighth straight win.

"NJC is a good team and I will give it to them. But, it was sophomore night and we really wanted to push and make it a memorable night for us. This place is a great place to play," Broussard said. "We have a great community and great fans and a great support system. It is really sad not to come back here because it is a great place to play."

Friday night, the Cougar players left it all on the court, playing one of their best matches of the season. Broussard said the secret to winning is playing with emotion and heart.

"The only secret we have to winning a game is having heart," she said. "We are always a team and we want to have the most heart and show that out on the court. Whenever we face a team, we want to prove we have more heart than them. We're not going down without a fight."

WNCC coach Giovana Melo said the sophomores are the heart of the team.

"They [the sophomores] have done a great job for us the last year and a half," Melo said. "They worked really hard and they are the ones sitting in that national championship last year and getting second. They were extremely upset and they deserve the recognition that they got. I am glad the people came out "

But it wasn't just the sophomores that were playing well, it was a team effort. Service runs were a big key to the Cougars win. In the opening set, NJC led 4-2 early before Broussard went on a four-point run for a 7-4 run. NJC came back to cut the lead to 11-10 on a Caroline Siquiera kill.

WNCC them opened up the contest again as Mendes went on a five point run for a 17-10 lead. WNCC didn't look back to capture the first set 25-15.

The second set was a battle as neither team enjoyed more than a two or three point lead. The Cougars finally started to pull away late. Leading just 17-14, things turned around as Mendes served up four points for a 22-14 lead. Big blocks and hard kills by Kayla Martin and Allora Tanner helped put the Plainswomen away in the second set 25-17.

WNCC continued excelling in the third set. WNCC jumped to a 3-1 lead and led 7-4 after a Fa'amoe kill. WNCC's Erika Goodwin then pushed the Cougar lead to 13-4 with a six-point service run behind two kills from Mendes, and kills from Silva and Fa'amoe. After that, it was just a matter of getting the win as Mendes tallied her 16th kill of the match for the winner.

NJC's Siquiera, who was named the NJCAA player of the week on Wednesday with her 44-kill, 33-dig performance against North Platte, was held to just 12 kills.

For WNCC a big key was their blocking as they tallied 17 blocks, including a triple block on Siquiera.

WNCC also received 24 set assists from Broussard. Broussard also had eight points, while Martins had 15 set assists and an ace serve. Rachael McCracken had a big night on defense with nearly 20 digs. She also had two points and five set assists.

WNCC (33-3) will wrap up the regular season when they travel to face Northeastern Junior College on Wednesday in Sterling, Colo., A win next week will give the Cougars the South Sub-region title.

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