Gabby Canavati and Amryi-Grace Paris combined for 44 kills on the day as the Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team swept past Dawson Community College and Casper College in impressive fashion for their 14th wins of the season in the final day of the Wyo-Braska Invite at Cougar Palace.
In the Cougar’s opener, WNCC pounded down 38 kills in sweeping past Dawson 25-9, 25-18, 25-18. WNCC’s hitting continued in the final match of the invite against Casper as Canavati tallied 15 kills and Paris 14 to lead WNCC to the 25-9, 27-25, 25-17 win over the Thunderbirds.
WNCC finished the tournament undefeated at 3-0. McCook also went undefeated in the invite at 4-0 after topping Laramie County Community College 25-21, 25-21, 25-20 and then defeated Casper 25-14. 25-22, 22-25, 25-19.
Other matches on the day saw LCCC sweep past Trinidad 25-18, 25-19, 25-9 while Dawson finished off Eastern Wyoming College 22-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-12.
Canavati and Paris each had 22 kills on the day and it was a tournament that the Cougars were fired up after the team was unranked for the first time in 17 years. That was motivation to play hard.
“Coach told us at practice that we weren’t ranked anymore so that angered us and it made us want to get better,” Canavati said. “He said for us to get ranked again, we need to win the next seven games. That is what is motivating us to win these next games. It doesn’t feel good [to be unranked]. We started at the top and now we aren’t even ranked. It hurts.”
Falling out of the rankings motivated the team and they played inspired over the last three days, first taking down McCook on Thursday in four sets, and then winning all nine sets in the Wyo-Braska Invite Friday and Saturday.
“We started off the days without a lot of energy but throughout the day we knew we had to play because we have several players injured so we played these games for them,” the freshman from Laredo, Texas, said. “We are happy with how we played, but there is always room for improvement.”
Against Dawson, WNCC took control of the match in the first set with a strong service game. Kaile Tuisamatatele served eight straight points to put WNCC up 21-7 and they cruised to the 25-9 win.
The second set was knotted at 9-9 when Adia Sherbeyn had four points for a 14-9 lead. Later, Tuisamatatele had three points for a 22-15 lead and then Santana Monroe finished off the set with a kill.
WNCC captured the third set behind strong play once again, winning 25-18.
Leslie Mamai-Lagafuaina led the team with 10 kills and three solo blocks. Paris finished with eight kills, Canavati had seven, and Tuisamatatele had six.
The service game was strong with Tuisamatatele had 13 points while Canavati finished with eight points.
Also for the Cougars, Ana Costas had seven points and 10 digs; Jayme Commins had six points, 29 set assists, and three digs; Sherbeyn had seven digs and four points; and Cami Esselin had seven points and 15 digs.
Against Casper, WNCC played strong in the first set winning 25-9. The second set was a battle back and forth before WNCC came back for the 27-25 win. The third set was dominated by the Cougars for the win.
WNCC finished the match with 43 kills. Canavati and Paris led the way with 15 and 14, followed by Mamai-Lagafuaina with six, Tuisamatatele with five, and Commins with three.
Costas led the way with 16 digs followed by Esselin with eight, Commins with seven, Sherbeyn with five, and Canavati and Tuisamatatele with four each.
Tuisamatatele led the way from the service line with 10 points, while Commins and Canvati each had eight points. Sherbeyn had six, followed by Esselin and Costas with five each.
WNCC, 14-6, will be back in action next weekend when they head to the southern Colorado Region IX South Conference road trip in facing top 20 ranked Otero Junior College on Thursday, Lamar Community College on Friday, and Trinidad State Junior College on Saturday.
Canavati said they know what they need to do to win after this weekend.
“We need to go out there and take one game at a time and execute in all our games and everyone do their jobs,” she said. “It will be hard because we have people out, but we will adjust and get things done.”