The 2nd-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team wore off the rust and swept past Otero Junior College 25-13, 25-23, 29-27 Thursday evening in a Region IX South Conference match at Cougar Palace.
The win was the Cougars’ 15th straight victory and moved the Cougars to 21-2 on the season. WNCC is 3-0 in South Conference play while Otero is 0-1.
Thursday’s win was also head coach Binny Canales’ career 600th win over all three levels of college volleyball.
“A lot of great kids helped get this 600th win, and I am really happy to get the win tonight,” Canales. “I am looking forward to getting a few more.”
Canales was pleased with the win after a week off and how the team is coming together. WNCC last played last week Thursday on the road in a four-set win over McCook.
“It is getting better. We haven’t really played a lot lately,” he said. “We had a couple of little things we had to work out early and late, but Otero played great. They fought and they made us earn it. That is what we need the rest of the season.”
WNCC had a pretty easy first set as Jayme Commins served four points for a 5-0 lead and then WNCC doubled up Otero 18-9. Otero came back to cut the lead to 18-22 on two Taiylor Holland points. The Cougars came back as Syenna Masaki had five points, including three aces for a 24-12 lead before Aneta Faksova ended the first set with a kill.
The second and third sets were battles. Canales said Otero made the Cougars earn the win in those two sets.
“They are very talented and they have some very strong players,” he said. “Their outside hitters are amazing and their libero did a nice job. They set the ball well and played good defense. We thought a lot of balls were down and they dug them up. It was an exciting match and fun to watch. Now we have to get ready for tomorrow.”
Indeed the second and third sets were intense. WNCC held a 14-11 lead in the second set after two Commins points. Otero came storming back to lead 21-19 on three Lauren Addington points. WNCC came right back as Kirstee Trees had three points for a 23-21.
Otero came back and tied the set at 23-23 before Kaile Tuisamatatele had a kill and a Commins point ended the second set.
The third set was just as intense as neither team enjoyed more than a three or 4-point lead. WNCC led 12-9 on a Commins ace. The Cougars led 20-16 on a Sarena Bartley kill. Otero fought back behind Addington’s service run of five points for a 22-20 lead. Otero had set point at 24-22 only watch WNCC come back to knot the score at 24-24. WNCC won the third set 29-27.
WNCC had three players finish with double-figure kills. Sarena Bartley led with 12 kills followed by 10 each from Brooke Kaawa and Syenna Masaki. Masaki also tallied nine digs, seven points, three aces, and four set assists. Kaawa had five digs, four points, and a solo block.
WNCC also received five kills and a solo block from Kaile Tuisamatatele; five digs, 10 points, and 33 set assists from Jayme Commins; 16 digs and seven points from Genesis Benitez; five digs and five points from Kirstee Trees; and two points from Lauren Shaul.
WNCC, 20-2, will have two more contests this week. The Cougars will host Lamar Community College on Fridayat 6 p.m. before entertaining Trinidad State Junior College on Saturday at 1 p.m.