The second-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team put together a balanced offensive attack in rolling to 25-15, 25-17, 27-18 win over Trinidad State Junior College in a Region IX South conference match Saturday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
The win was the Cougars 17th straight victory and raised the team's record to 23-2 on the season. The last loss was an early September defeat to Indian Hills Community College.
Gering's Lauren Shaul, who earned her second straight start of the season, said the team played as well as expected.
"I thought we played really good. I think we kind of died down a little bit at the end, but we got the job done, so that is all that matters," Shaul, who finished with five digs and three points, said. "The key to being on this win streak is just to keep playing hard, playing our game, and not dropping down to the other team's level. We just need to keep working hard."
WNCC played everyone that was suited up and everyone produced when called open.
"I think it was really good that our bench played because coming in and doing their job," Shaul said. "It was nice to give our starters a break."
Jayme Commins and Kirstee Trees each had a double-double in the match. Commins, the Ogallala graduate, finished with 30 set assists, 10 digs, two kills, five points, and an ace. Trees tallied 12 points, 12 digs, and two aces.
The Cougars offense had three players that netted near double-figure kills. Sarena Bartley had nine kills, while Syenna Masaki and Kadara Marshal each had eight. Josie Maldonado finished with seven. Masaki also had 11 points, six digs, and five set assists, while Marshall had seven points.
While the offense was clicking, so was the defense. The Cougars finished with 57 digs. Genesis Benitez led the way with 16 digs. WNCC also had six ace serves, two each from Trees and Marshall.
WNCC controlled the first set as Trees had a 7-point service run for a 12-2 lead followed by Shaul with three points for a 19-5 lead. WNCC won the first set 25-13.
The second set saw WNCC jump to a 21-7 lead after six points from Marshall. Trinidad started a comeback, slicing the lead to 21-15, but two Benitez service points ended the second 25-17.
The third set saw Trinidad hold a 13-11 lead and then a 17-15 lead. Trinidad led 18-17 before a Masaki kill tied the set at 18-18. Masaki followed with six points for a 24-18 lead before Bartley ended the match with a kill.
WNCC, 23-2, will hit the road for two matches next week. The Cougars will travel to Casper College on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. contest before taking on Northeastern Junior College on Thursday in a South Conference match.
Shaul said it was a good team win and they will take in two important road matches next week.
"I think it is important to know that we do prepare for next week's games," she said. "Since both schools have pretty vocal student sections, we have to bring a lot of energy and not let their crowd get to us."