Posted 2 months ago
By John Axtell
It was Think Pink breast cancer awareness night and for the Cougars, who wore pink uniforms, the 25-12, 25-21, 25-20 win was more than a win for the team, it was also for all the Breast Cancer Survivors and families that lost loved ones, said Kayla Martin, who led WNCC with 14 kills.
“It feels so great to get this win tonight on Think Pink night because we were all playing for someone that has had cancer or is dealing with cancer right know,” Martin said. “So a win for that means a lot right know.”
Martin hasn’t had anyone in her family with cancer yet, but the mother of assistant coach Fatima Balza has the disease and Martin thought about her a lot.. “I played this game for Fatima’s mom and it was pretty emotional out there tonight.”
Martin also felt the Cougars needed the win to bring back some of the mojo the team had lost the past few weeks. “I thought we needed this win to help boost our confidence a little more,” she said. “It just feels good to win. We played with no pressure and we wanted to hard and win this in three and that is what we did.”
Martin thought a big key to the win was that the Cougars were relaxed, just what she believes they need to do as they try to get back to the national tournament.
“We are not playing scared. We want to get to nationals and to get nationals you can’t play scared,” she said. “We are using these games as practice and just swing away and see what we can do.”
WNCC finished with 43 kills in the three sets. Martin got a majority of her 14 in the second set, while Priscila Mendes chipped in 13 and Gabby Varela 11.
While the hitting was superb, the serving was also on. The Cougars also showed some hustle on defense. Rachael McCracken finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 digs in the win, while Mendes and Martin each had vital service runs to spearhead the serving.
The Cougars started somewhat lukewarm in the first set as Otero’s Kayla Carroll served three points for a 4-3 lead. Then the Rattlers’ Diana Etienne hammered home a kill to knot the set at 6-6. After that, things changed in a heartbeat as Martin hammered home a kill and then served five straight points for a 12-6 lead.
WNCC’s serving kept was still hot later when a Varela kill put the service in McCracken’s hand. McCracken then served seven straight points, including three straight kills from Martin for a 23-10 lead. Martin finished off the first set with a kill.
McCracken continued her strong serving in the second set four straight points for a 6-3 lead. Otero came back to take an 8-7 lead and then tied the game at 12-12. Mendes then served three points to put WNCC up 16-13.
Otero battled back, slicing the lead to 18-17 couldn’t get any closer as Mendes had a couple huge kills before Varela hammered home the set winner.
The Cougars led from start to finish in the final set, jumping out to a 5-1 lead on two service points from Lindsay Wehkamp. The Cougars then didn’t allow Otero a major service run the rest of the way as they chipped away to the 25-20 win on a Martin kill.
WNCC had a variety of players contribute. Martins finished with 24 set assists, 2 points, and 8 digs; Morgan Broussard 14 set assists and two digs; Mendes 7n points and 6 digs; Martin 6 points, a block, and 2 digs; Wehkamp 3 points, an ace, and two digs; Amanda Schoene 2 digs; McCracken an ace and five set assists; Varela 2 solo blocks; Leticia Silva 3 solo blocks; and Kylie Fa’amoe 2 kills.
Martin says the Cougars are going to go out and continue playing the way they played against Otero for the rest of the season. “We definitely are going to keep playing at this high level,” she said. “We are not going to let it drop at all. The intensity was good tonight and we are going to keep it like that.”
WNCC will be back in action at home both Friday night and Saturday. They host Lamar Community College Friday at 7 p.m. and Trinidad State Junior College at Saturday 1 p.m.