Enna Masaki pounded down 24 kills and the Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team defeated McCook Community College in four sets 25-27, 25-20, 25-19, 25-17 in a Region IX South conference contest Thursday at Cougar Palace.
Masaki finished with a double-double of 24 kills and 15 digs as the Cougars captured their 11th win of the season.
“We started off rough in the beginning,” Masaki said. “We actually have a new lineup and going with me and Ana passing in the back. We did a little change-up and it was something to adjust to, but I thought in the end we played well with it.”
Masaki’s offense came alive in the third and fourth sets where she accounted for 15 of her 24 kills. Masaki said she did start slow.
“I feel like for me I have a slow start,” she said. “That is why I need to pick it up. I need to play good from start to finish.”
WNCC did start slow as a team. The first set was back and forth with neither team going up more than two points until McCook 23nt up 21-18. Still, the set went back and forth with the teams knotted at 24 and 25 before McCook won 27-24.
The Cougars woke up in the second set, running to a 9-5 lead. The lead was short-lived as Ashley Carson served for six points to put the Indians up 11-9. McCook led 13-10 before Ana Costas served four points to put the Cougars up 15-13.
WNCC extended the lead to 20-16 on two Kaile Tuisamatatele points and continued the strong service game with two Jayme Commins points for a 23-18 lead. WNCC won 25-20.
The third set was knotted at 13-13 when the Cougars put up a big block for a sideout. Costas followed with six points for a 20-13 lead. McCook cut the lead to three, 21-18, but a Gabby Canavati kill and two Adia Sherbeyn points put WNCC up 24-18. Masaki finished off the set with a kill and the 25-19 win.
WNCC’s strong service game continued in the fourth set. Knotted at 5-5, Masaki pounded home a kill followed by three Tuisamatatele points for a 10-5 lead. WNCC pushed the lead to 16-9 on two Costas points. Sherbeyn added two more points along with two Masaki kills for a 20-14 lead. Commins finished off the match, serving the final four points as Amryi-Grace Paris had the final kill.
Masaki said the way they played in the final three sets was crucial.
“It was really important [to come out strong in the second set] because coach told us we needed to start off strong,’ she said. “I think it sometimes is not how we start off but how we finish.”
WNCC definitely did finish the match against McCook.
Several players stepped up in the match. WNCC finished with match with 55 kills. Masaki led the way with 24 followed by Parris with 13 and Leslie Mamai-Lagafuaina with 11. Canavati put down nine kills while Tuisamatatele had eight.
Masaki and Costas each had a double-double in the contest. While Masaki had 15 digs, she also had three points, and an ace. Costas had 13 digs and 15 points along with three aces.
Commins came close to a double-double, finishing with 51 set assists, nine points, and seven digs.
Also for the Cougars, Camille Esselin had had seven digs and three points; Tuisamatatele had four digs and 10 points; Sherbeyn had nine digs and seven points; Paris had three digs and two solo blocks; and Mamai-Lagafuaina had two solo blocks.
WNCC, 11-6, will look to keep the strong play going this weekend when they host the Wyo-Braska Invite. Action begins Friday at 11 a.m. when Trinidad State takes on Eastern Wyoming. WNCC will play just once on Friday, meeting EWC at 7 p.m. The Cougars will have two games on Saturday, facing Dawson Community College at noon and then Casper College at 4 p.m.