WNCC hosts EWC in home opener Wednesday
SCOTTSBLUFF - The 18th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team is fresh off a 4-0 weekend at the Reiver Invite over the weekend and now the Cougars are looking to showcase that talent at home come Wednesday night.
The Cougars will entertain Highway 26 foe Eastern Wyoming College Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Cougar Palace. There will be a Tailgate BBQ in the Cougar Palace parking lot before the match from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Sophomore Anakaren Chavez said the team is looking forward to opening the home portion of their schedule Wednesday night.
“I am excited to play at home and show the community our talents put together and show all the work we’ve been putting in,” Chavez said. “We’ve been practicing hard so I’m ready to come out and go in one set at a time and play our best.”
The match-up with EWC will be interesting because the last time the two teams played was back in the Region IX tournament in November and the Lancers eliminated the Cougars in four sets 21-25, 25-23, 18-25, 19-25.
WNCC opened the season with four wins over Top 12 opponents. On Friday, the Cougars disposed of No. 3 Missouri State-West Plains 25-22, 32-30, 25-16, and then upended No. 1 Iowa Western Community College 15-25, 23-25, 25-11, 25-19, 15-9. On Saturday, WNCC swept both opponents. First, the Cougars defeated No. 5 Butler Community College 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 and then upended No. 12 Jefferson College 25-13, 25-20, 25-23.
Chavez said the team played some of their best volleyball over the weekend when they stayed unblemished.
“It was definitely some of the best volleyball I’ve seen and played for sure,” Chavez said. “At times we started a bit rough, but our energy from the bench brought us back in and came out stronger. It was definitely a good feeling going 4-0 and seeing us come together and play so well together. We’re keeping this same energy and hopefully carrying it throughout the whole season and take care of business because it only the beginning.”
Wednesday will be an interesting since the Cougars have already played four matches and the Lancers will be playing their first of the season under first-year coach Judd Wisener, who took over for Dante Geoffrey.
The Lancers have 10 players on their roster including two sophomores in 5-foot-10 Makenna Reinert of Thornton, Colorado, and Halle Hogan, 5-9 from Woods Cross, Utah.
EWC has Torrington High graduate Avery West on the team including players from Texas, Bulguria, Serbia, Texas, Minnesota, and Tennessee. The Texas player is Aliyah Frazier, a defensive specialist from Elgin, Texas, whose father is Otis Frazier who played for the Cougars in the 1990s.
WNCC has a roster of 18 players with nine returners. Over the weekend, The three returning hitters led the Cougars on the offensive side. Ale Meoni tallied 38 kills in the four wins while Erica Fava had 37, and Jenna Curtis had 34. Freshman Emmalei Mapu tallied 31 kills from her middle hitting position.
A couple Cougars, after the opening weekend, are among the Top 10 in the NJCAA. Freshman Shannelle Martinez is sixth in setting at 10.14 set assists per set. Sophomore Anakaren Chavez is eighth in total digs with 72 and 7th in digs per set at 6.00.
Mapu is tied for third in total blocks with 20 while being tied for second with 18 block assists.
Meoni is ninth in points (kills, aces, and blocks) with 55.5 while coming in at 34th with most kills. Meoni is also tied for sixth in ace serves with 10 while Fava is tied for 14th with nine aces.
Curtis has seven aces and tied for 32nd. Curtis also is now fourth in the WNCC record books in service points in a match after serving 27 points in the five-set win over No. 1 Iowa Western on Friday.
After Wednesday, WNCC will hit the road to face Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Friday with a first serve set for 6 p.m. The Cougars’ next home match will not be until Thursday September 15 when they host Northwest College.