The 4th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team received 13 kills from Sarena Bartley as the Cougars swept past Western Wyoming Community College 25-17, 25-10, 27-25 Thursday night at Cougar Palace.
The win was the Cougars’ 13th win of the season and their seventh straight win. On top of that, the Cougars have won 17 straight sets dating back to winning the final two sets in a match with Casper College last week.
But, while the Cougars won the match, the players realize they didn’t give their full attention, playing sporadic.
“I think our energy level was kind of low, but we have each other’s back so we picked up each other,” Syenna Masaki said. “We just need to have the energy from the beginning because that is what helps us play better.”
The Cougars played OK in the first set winning 25-17 and then really picked up the energy in the second, winning 25-10. The second set, however, did start tight as WNCC only held a 6-5 lead.
Things changed as Bartley had two monster kills to push the lead to 9-5. After two Genesis Benitez service points, Kaila Tuisamatatele pounded down a couple kills for a 15-9 lead.
WNCC’s energy intensified as Brook Kaawa and Lauren Shaul combined for the final nine points for the 25-10 win.
The third set was a matter of streaks on both teams. Western Wyoming held an 11-9 lead and led 14-13. WNCC fought back as Masaki pounded down a kill and then served two points for a 19-15 lead.
Western Wyoming followed with a six-point service run from Taylor Winson to give the Mustangs a 22-10 lead. Western Wyoming went up 23-20 before another monster Bartley kill and two Kirstee Trees service points tied the set at 23.
Points swayed back and forth until Western Wyoming led 25-24 on a missed serve. Masaki came right back with a thundering kill and then Tuisamatatele finished off the match with two service points.
Masaki said the key in the team’s comeback win in the third was picking up the energy when they had to.
“The win was more of our energy,” she said. “It was really low [in the third] and we had to pick it up because the score was very tight.”
WNCC had three players finish with double-figure kills. Bartley led the way with 13 kills followed by 11 from Kaawa and 10 from Masaki. Tuisamatatele and Kadara Marshall each had eight kills.
WNCC also had a strong service and defensive match. Benitez finished with 24 digs followed by Masaki with 10, Kaawa and Jayme Commins with nine each. Commins also tallied 45 set assists while getting three points.
Trees recorded six digs and three points on the night. Kaawa led the service attack with 13 points followed by Masaki with 10, Shaul with five, Tuisamatatele with four, and Commins with three.
WNCC won’t have time to rest as they will compete in the WyoBraska Invite beginning Friday at Cougar Palace. WNCC cohosts the invite with EWC.
WNCC will open the WyoBraska on Friday when they play Central Wyoming at 11 a.m. and then Northwest Wyoming at 7 p.m. The Cougars will wrap up the WyoBraska on Saturday when they battle Garden City Community College at noon and Laramie County Community College at 4 p.m.
Eastern Wyoming will play four matches in Torrington over the two days in the invite. The Lancers will face Garden City at 11 a.m. on Friday and then Western Wyoming at 5 p.m. Saturday’s slate for the Lancers include a 10 a.m.showdown with Northwest Wyoming and then a 4 p.m. contest against Central Wyoming.