It was a battle between two top 20 ranked teams in the Highway 26 showdown Friday night in Torrington, Wyoming.
In the end, the ttop ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team received 18 kills from Lara Picht in helping the Cougars sweep No. 16 Eastern Wyoming College in exciting fashion 25-19, 25-23, 30-28. It was WNCC’s 20th win of the season and 12th straight.
“We played alright. The first two sets were good,” Picht said. “We had some small problems tonight that we have to fix.”
What makes Friday’s win big was it was the second straight win the Cougars had to play after sweeping Casper College on Thursday. Picht said it feels good to get two sweeps the last two nights.
“I am happy that we won both of these games 3-0. That was our task and we accomplished it,” Picht said. “I am happy with the two wins and EWC is a good team. They have a good defense so balls keep coming back. We just had to keep it up.”
EWC coach Julie Julie Sherbeyn said the big difference in the game was her team’s serving, where they missed nine serves, including three straight in the third game.
“We had trouble finding our rhythm tonight and our serving errors killed us which was exactly opposite of the strong serving performance we had against NJC,” Sherbeyn said. “We were able to play strong through the last 10 points of game three but ultimately we came up short.”
It truly was a battle of top 20 teams and a dogfight too.
The first game saw WNCC jump to a 13-8 lead behind two Lauren Shaul points. EWC bounced back to cut the lead to 14-13 on three Lauren Hastings points. WNCC rebounded, going up 19-15 on two Barbara Briceno points and went on to win 25-19 on a Briceno kill.
WNCC jumped to a 7-2 lead in game two after five Picht points. It was short lived as Hastings hammered home a kill and then the 5-foot-10 sophomore from Cheyenne served four points to knot the score at 7-7.
The second game went back and forth from there until WNCC jumped in front 21-19 on a Kaylee Spreier point. It was short-lived as Kylee Tresch had two points, including an ace to put the Lancers up 22-21.
Briceno stopped the EWC rally and then Kirstee Trees served two points, the second on an ace, to put WNCC up 24-22 and they went on to win 25-23.
If one thought game two was exciting, game three had plenty of electricity like the lightning that was streaking in the skies outside.
WNCC jumped to a 13-10 lead on four Bia Berti points and led 19-15 late on a Briceno ace serve. WNCC was on the brink of capturing the third game leading 23-20 when EWC mounted a comeback as Hastings served three points to put the Lancers up 24-23.
WNCC had match point twice at 25-24 and 26-25, but each time the Lancers came up with big kills. The Lancers came through with game point of their own on a Carvajal service point at 27-26. Picht came through with two straight kills to put match point back in the Cougars’ favor at 28-27.
The Lancers recorded another kill to tie the game at 28. WNCC came back with a Picht kill and then Spreier sealed the win for the Cougars with a kill and the 30-28 win
Picht and Briceno combined for 35 kills to lead the Cougars. Picht had 18 with just two hitting errors, while Briceno had 17. Picht also had five points, while Briceno had eight digs, and six digs.
Also for the Cougars, Spreier had three kills, three digs, and three points; Joise Maldonado had two kills and two digs; Brooke Kaawa had three kills, 22 digs, and six points; Bia Berti had nine digs, 38 set assists, and six points; Genesis Benitez-Fontanez had seven digs; Trees had nine digs and six points; and Shaul had three digs and three points.
EWC was led by Carvajal with 12 kills, while Helena Khouri had 10 kills, eight digs and three blocks. Hastings had a big day finishing with 10 points and two blocks, followed by Kylee Tresch with seven points, 13 set assists, and nine digs.
Gering’s Brooklyn Perez had a big night from the back row, finishing with 12 digs from her libero position along with two aces. Alexandria Simmerman had 12 set assists
EWC, who falls to 14-3 on the year, will be back in action next Tuesday when they host Laramie County Community College in a Region IX North contest.
WNCC, who is now 20-2 on the season, will have a break with just one match next week when they travel to McCook Community College on Wednesday for a Region IX South matchup.