SALT LAKE CITY – The fourth-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team played tough, but split a pair of matches in the second day of the Crystal “Inn”vitational in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars opened Saturday’s play with an emotional five-set win over Central Wyoming College 28-30, 25-18, 27-25, 19-25, 18-16 before taking on No. 2 College of Southern Idaho and playing the Golden Eagles tough before falling in three sets 25-22, 28-26, 25-17.
WNCC went 2-2 in the invite and move to 5-4 on the season. WNCC will next be in action Wednesday when they host Eastern Wyoming College at 7 p.m. at Cougar Palace.
Enna Masaki and Adia Sherbeyn combined for 73 digs and Kaile Tuisamatatele had 17 kills in the five-set win over the Rustlers in a match that lasted two hours.
The Cougars dropped the first set 30-28 before rebounding in the second set 25-18. WNCC led 17-13 after four Sherbeyn service points and closed out the set on a Tuisamatatele kill.
WNCC captured the third set, but it wasn’t easy. The Cougars trailed 18-17 before they started to make a comeback behind four points from Tuisamatatele and then took their first-lead of the set at 23-22 after three Logan Belford points. The two teams were knotted at 25 before WNCC won on a Masaki service point.
WNCC couldn’t close out the Rustlers in the fourth as Central Wyoming took a 21-12 lead and won 25-19 forcing a fifth set.
Central Wyoming grabbed a 6-3 lead early in the deciding set only to watch Cami Esselin serve to point for a 10-9 lead. Central Wyoming went back in front at 13-12 and the two squads were tied at 14, 15 and 16 before Masaki served the Cougars to the 18-16 win.
Masaki led the team with a triple-double of 34 digs, 11 set assists, and 14 kills. Sherbeyn had a double-double of 39 digs and 13 points with two aces.
WNCC finished with 65 kills in the match. Tuisamatatele led the team with 17 kills and three solo blocks. Leslie Mamia-Lagafuaina had 13 kills with four solo blocks; Gaby Canavati had 11 kills; Belford had eight kills along with nine points16 digs.
Also for the Cougars, Jayme Commins had 50 set assists with 11 digs and six points; Esselin had six digs; and Terri Takita-Robins had five digs and five points.
While the team struggled a bit against Central Wyoming, the Cougars played much better against CSI despite losing in three sets. WNCC trailed to the second-ranked Golden Eagles 21-17 in the first set before coming back to tie the set at 21 on two Masaki points. CSI, however, scored the final two points for the 25-22 win.
The second set was even more intense. WNCC led CSI 7-3 and 13-9 at one time before the Golden Eagles came back for a 14-13 lead. WNCC, behind five points from Masaki, went back in front and seemed in control at 19-14. WNCC led 22-17 later on, but CSI responded with a five-point service run for a 23-22 lead.
WNCC came within a point of set point at 24-23, but couldn’t get the set point before falling 28-26.
The two top-five ranked teams were knotted at 10-10 in the third set before CSI went up 15-10 and led 20-16. The Golden Eagles closed out the set at 25-17.
Masaki had a double-double in the loss, finishing with 18 digs and 11 points. She also had five set assists and four kills.
Canavati led the team with 11 kills followed by Tuisamatatele had nine kills, Mamia-Lagafuaina had six kills, and Commins had two. Mamia-Lagafuaina had four solo blocks.
Also for the Cougars, Commins finished with 23 set assists, 11 digs, and two points; Sherbeyn had 19 digs and three points; Esselin had nine digs; and Belford had seven digs and seven points.