WNCC VB INTO THE FINAL 4, CASPER COLLEGE FACES ELIMINATION
WEST PLAINS, MO. – The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team is into the Final Four at the NJCAA national volleyball tournament in West Plains, Mo, for a ninth straight year after winning its first two matches Thursday…avenging one of their two losses this season along the way.
While the Region IX South champions rolled along, Region IX North champion Casper College wasn’t as fortunate and was swept in its opener by #1-ranked and 4th-seeded San Jacinto of Texas 25-13, 25-13, 25-19 to fall into the consolation bracket.
WNCC, which finished third a year ago, opened the tournament with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-11 win over Wallace State-Hanceville, then moved to the quarterfinals against North Idaho College…which defeated them back on September 1.
The Cougars got their revenge, dropping the Cardinals 26-24, 23-25, 25-16, 25-21 to move into the Final Four against Iowa Western Community College, who handed WNCC its other loss.
Iowa Western swept Temple College in the opening round and Central Florida in the quarterfinals to set up a Friday night semifinal final battle with the Cougars.
Against North Idaho, WNCC got 18 kills from Danika Youngblood and 15 kills from Kat Agson, but also got stung by momentum-breaking calls especially in the third set where the Cougars received two yellow cards.
Agson, who had a number of thundering kills in both matches, said her team survived and stayed “forever strong” to move closer to a national title.
“This is unbelievable. We played our hearts out,” the sophomore hitter from Houston said. “We had to lay everything on the floor. We just had to put everything to the side and play our game and play harder than we have ever played before.
“It was the biggest fight that we had to have tonight. We couldn’t let up at all. All we had to do was play our game and keep fighting. Even when we had just four points to go, we had to keep fighting. We could not let up at all.”
Agson said this team has been fighting all year to get wins and today showed just how much this team wants a national title with the emotion that the starters and the bench showcased against North Idaho.
“It was more emotional out there than any other game we have played this season,” Agson said. “There were a couple calls that we thought we were getting cheated and of course you have to take it to heart. If you feel like you are backed into a corner, you come out fighting and that is what we had to do; we fought.”
A big key in the win against North Idaho was the team’s potent hitting attack. The Cougars finished with 51 kills as Agson and Youngblood combined for 33 kills, but Agson says everyone had big kills. Yoro Tovar added 7, Priscila Mendes 5 , Megan Johnson 4, and Allora Tanner 2.
“It is a huge thing for us to have big hitters. We usually rely on our defense and our serve and pass when we play our region teams. But when it comes down to the nationals, you have to come with the big guns. I think all three of us and Allora coming in, everyone did what they had to do in putting balls away. I also think Megan did a lot this game.”
The Cougars also received a triple-double from Luiza Martins, who finished with 38 set assists, 10 points, and 17 digs. Youngblood had a double-double, collecting 12 digs and six points to go along with her 18 kills.
Alex Rivera finished the game with six points and 22 kills, while Mendes had nine digs and nine points; Tasha Meyer had six points and 12 digs; Tovar had six digs and 10 points.
After the Cougars failed to hold a 19-16 lead and lost the second set 25-23, they fought back hard in the third set and got 5 straight points on serves by Mendes…including an ace and an Agson kill…to go up 17-12.
WNCC jumped out to leads of 6-0 and 10-5 in the fourth set, saw North Idaho cut the lead to 15-12, then got 5 straight service points from Martins and an Agson block and kill for a 21-12 lead.
The Cardinals rallied again and got to 22-21 before stopped the rally with a thundering kill and then Youngblood finished off the match with two kills to put the Cougars in to the Final Four.
The tourney opener against Wallace State wasn’t as emotional as the North Idaho contest, even though it was the third time in four years the teams had met in the opening round…and the third straight time the Cougars won in a sweep. They blocked with precision with 22 assist blocks and had three players with double-digit kills.
The Cougars took the first set 25-19, but didn’t really open up the contest until midway through the second set after trailing 6-2 and 13-7 in the second set. Martins went on a six-point service run that was aided by three big kills from Agson and some timely blocking for a 14-13 lead.
Wallace State tied the match at 15-15, but then the Cougar “block party” went into high gear as they shut down the Wallace State hitters while Youngblood, Johnson and Mendes each had huge kills.
The third set was all WNCC as the Cougars jumped out to a 7 -1 lead, then pushed the margin to 17-3 lead as Meyer served eight points behind fine-tuned blocking and hitting. Tanner finished off the set with a block on the penultimate point before serving the final point for the win.
Youngblood led the way in the match with a double-double of 10 kills and 13 digs. Agson pounded home 12 kills with 4 blocks, and Tovar had 11 kills, 6 assisted blocks and a solo block.
Martins and Meyer each finished with 13 points…Martins also with 6 assisted blocks, 7 digs, and 31 set assists, Meyer with an ace and 8 digs. Alex Rivera added 10 digs; Johnson 2 kills and 4 assisted blocks; and Mendes 3 kills, a solo block, and 7 digs.
First serve between WNCC and Western Iowa is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MST, and like both Thursday matches will be broadcast on Double Q Country.
Casper College plays Redlands College in an elimination match Friday morning at 11:00 MST. The winner will play again at 3:30 MST.
First Round Results
Iowa Western CC over Temple College – 25-18, 25-18, 25-18
College of Central Florida over Western Texas College – 25-12, 25-21, 25-14
North Idaho College over Hutchinson C.C. – 25-20, 25-15, 25-16
Western Nebraska CC over Wallace State-Hanceville – 25-19, 25-19, 25-11
College of Southern Idaho over Faulkner Stat3 – 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-19
Hillsborough C.C. over Missouri State-West Plains – 25-15, 18-25, 29-31, 25-17, 15-8.
Tyler Junior College over Redlands CC – 25-15, 25-8, 21-25, 30-28
San Jacinto over Casper College – 25-13, 25-13, 25-19
Iowa Western over Central Florida – 31-29, 26-24, 25-23
Western Nebraska C.C. over North Idaho – 26-24, 23-25,25-16, 25-21
Southern Idaho over Hillsborough – 25-16, 25-21, 25-20
San Jacinto over Tyler J.C. – 25-17. 25-18, 25-23