The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team fought hard having four players tally double figure kills but it wasn’t enough as the No. 4 Cougars fell in five intense sets 25-23, 9-25, 25-20, 17-25, 9-15 to No. 12-ranked San Jacinto College Thursday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
“We played a lot better as a team comparatively [then Wednesday night],” Kadara Marshall said. “We just had a few errors but when we stayed focused and concentrated on our game we executed like we know how. We are taking this whole weekend as a learning experience curve, and I know that after this weekend no matter the result we will come back stronger and a more put together team.”
It was a much better performance on the court than Wednesday night’s contest against Northeastern Junior College and the Cougars showed they can compete against nationally-ranked teams. WNCC looked sharp in set one, grabbing a 13-11 lead and then led 18-13 behind four Syenna Masaki points. WNCC led 22-19 after two Kadara Marshall points and won the second set 25-23.
The second set was all San Jac as they led 7-1 after six points from Margarita Buvinic and later leading 17-4 before winning the second 25-9.
WNCC started the third set leading 8-3 behind four points from Kirstee Trees and led 19-10 after three more Trees points. WNCC won the set on a Josie Maldonado kill 25-20.
The fourth set was back and forth as San Jac led 7-3 before WNCC came back to tie the set at 15-15 on a Sarena Barltey kill. The Ravens then served six points for a 22-15 lead and won 25-17.
WNCC led 4-3 in the fifth set before the Ravens went on two clutch serving runs, leading 7-4 and then a four-point run by Raven Oates for a 12-5 lead to take the fifth 15-9.
The Cougars finished the night with 59 kills. Brooke Kaawa led the way with 14 kills followed by Joise Maldonado with 12, and Bartley and Kaile Tuisamatatele with 10 each. Marshall also had eight kills followed by Syenna Masaki with five.
Defensively, the team had four players with double-figure digs. Genesis Benitez finished with 25 followed by Kaawa with 19, Masaki with 15, and Lauren Shaul with 11. Trees tallied nine.
Masaki finished with 44 set assists while getting seven points. Trees led the team with nine points and ace while Marshall had six and Shaul tallied five points.
WNCC, 27-5, will be back in action twice on Friday when they battle Laredo Community College at 1 p.m. before taking on No. 2 Iowa Western Community College at 7 p.m. There will be three other matches on the day beginning at 11 a.m.