WNCC sweeps past Lamar for 16th straight win

WNCC sweeps past Lamar for 16th straight win

                Joise Maldonado pounded down 12 kills and the second-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team swept past Lamar Community College 28-26, 25-17, 25-13 in a Region IX South Conference match Friday at Cougar Palace.

                The victory was the Cougars 16th straight match win and moved the Cougars to 22-2 on the season.

                The win was impressive, too, with Lamar coming into Friday's contest on the heels of a five-set win over Northeastern Junior College Thursday night. Maldonado said the team knew what to expect.

                "He [Coach Binny Canales] told everyone to be ready," Maldonado said. "That is what we did. Everyone was ready to play."

                Maldonado said knowing how important this game was, the team played OK.

                "We did great," she said. "At the beginning it was kind of rough but we just put it all to together in the third set. It was a good match."

                WNCC played well, too. After a tight first set, the Cougars warmed up and controlled the second and third sets.

                "The first set was like was a little bit complicated and we were like out of focus," she said. "But we did great on the next two sets and we are proud of the win."

                What really helped in the win was everyone that played contributed. Maldonado said that was a huge plus.

                "In the last set everyone did great," Maldonado said. "People off the bench came in and did their work. So, we are proud."

                The first set win set the tone for the rest of the match.

                Lamar led 20-19 in the first set before a Sarena Bartley kills and two Jayme Commins points gave WNCC the 22-20 lead. The Lopes fought back to take a 24-22 lead on a Samantha Smith ace serve. Maldonado avoided the set win for Lamar with a kill and then a big block gave WNCC the 25-24 lead. The score was tied at 25 and 26 before Bartley had a kill and then Kaile Tuisamatatele pounded home the set winner for the 28-26 win.

                The second set was a dogfight early with neither team taking more than a 2-point lead. WNCC led 8-6 on two Kadara Marshall points only to watch Lamar tie the set at 12. Marshall came back around a second time in the service rotation and served up three points for a 20-14 lead.

                Lamar cut the lead to 20-17, but a Tuisamatatele kill and then four Lauren Shaul service points, including an ace serve, gave WNCC the 25-17 win.

                The third set was all WNCC. The Cougars led 6-1 after four Genesis Benitez points. Lamar cut the lead to 11-8, but Maldonado stopped the run with a kill putting the serve into Commins' hands. The Ogallala graduate came through win nine straight points for a 21-9 lead and WNCC would win 25-13.

                WNCC had two collect double-doubles.  Syenna Masaki finished with 10 kills and 10 digs, while Commins had 29 set assists and 13 points. Masaki also had five points, five set assists, and an ace, while Commins had two kills, five digs, and an ace.

                Maldonado led the offensive attack with 12 kills. Bartley added seven kills followed by Tuisamatatele with six, and Aneta Faksova with three. Faksova also had three assist block. Marshall finished with five points, an ace, and a kill

                Also for the Cougars, Benitez had 12 digs, four points and two set assists, while Kirstee Trees and Lauren Shaul each had five digs and five points. Shaul also had an ace serve.

                WNCC, 4-0 in Region IX South Conference action, will wrap up the 3-game home stand when they host Trinidad State Junior College Saturday at 1 p.m. at Cougar Palace.