Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
The pre-season No. 1 ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team displayed plenty of power, height and heart as the Cougars wrapped up pre-season workouts with scrimmages Friday at Hastings College and Saturday at Cougar Palace with the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage.
And, after Saturday’s scrimmage, the Cougars are ready to head into the regular season with lots of swagger as they open the season next weekend at the Reiver Invite in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Sophomore Allora Tanner was quite impressed with the amount of improvement from Friday’s scrimmage in Hastings and the home inter-squad scrimmage at Cougar Palace.
“[Friday] was our first scrimmages and it id always exciting when you start playing and scrimmaging different people when you have a brand new team,” Tanner said. “But, you know what, we realized we have a lot more to work on after Friday. We have a lot of excitement and new girls and we love to work hard. We have a lot of potential that we see and we are growing right now hardcore.”
The Cougars definitely picked it up on Saturday, where the Blue team topped the Gold team in four sets 25-20,21-25,25-15, and 25-16. Tanner said it really doesn’t matter who won, what stood out was the talent that this team possesses.
“I told our team before the scrimmage let’s just have fun,” she said. “We know what we have to work on but let’s have fun. It is a fun time and just have fun out there. Let’s just go out and play hard and leave everything on the court.”
While no statistics were kept and the coaches were coaching from all areas of the court, both teams flashed plenty of power along the frontline in terms of hitting and blocking. Tanner was one of the highlights for her team on the rightside while freshman Kayla Martin held down the outside and Kylie Fa’amoe was a force in the middle.
“I am so excited for it [the power of the hitters],” Tanner said. “We are also a lot taller this year than last year and I like that. We have some big hitters that go and hit hard and straight down. I like to see that.”
Other members of the winning team included sophomore Luiza Martins, and freshmen Amanda Schoene, Erika Goodwin, and Rachael McCracken.
The Gold team also showcased plenty of hitting power, led by sophomores Lindsay Wehkamp and Priscila Mendes, and freshmen Gabriela Varela and Leticia SIlva.
Tanner said they improved plenty from Friday’s scrimmage to Saturday.
“Yes we did get better,” she said. “Of course we have those things that we need to work on and we each have goals that we have to work and focus on each day. But we have learned so much from all the coaches and we really admire them. We take to heart what they say and we work hard.”
As much as the Cougars showcased their hitting potential, the two setters ran the offense to a T. Martins guided the Blue team and Gering’s Morgan Broussard guided the Gold team.
Finding a libero will be a difficult job and it is not because of lack of talent. Head Coach Giovana Melo has four players that are battling for that position, including sophomore Kasey Lafitaga, and freshmen McCracken, Goodwin, and Cassandra Hernandez.
While the team has plenty of talent and depth, Tanner said that strength of the team will be the heart for the game that they put out on the court.
“Honestly, it is our heart,” Tanner said. “We all want it [a national title] so much and are working so hard for it. We have a goal and we will put our heart into and let it [our hearts] take us to wherever it takes us and hopefully it is far.”
WNCC opens the season this week when they face three of top six teams in the nation. The Cougars ride into Council Bluffs, Iowa, as the top=-ranked team and will face No. 4 San Jacinto and No. 2 Iowa Western Community College on Friday, and No. 6 Salt Lake Community College and Barton Community College on Saturday. The Cougars will then have their home opener on Tuesday, Aug. 27 against Casper College.