Erica Fava pounded down 15 kills and the No. 4-ranked Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team put together a workmanlike performance in registering the sweep over Otero College in Region IX south conference action Thursday night at Cougar Palace 25-13, 25-18, 25-15.

The win was the Cougars' 28th of the season and the team's 11th straight victory as they head into the final home match of the season on Friday when Trinidad State College comes to town with a 6 p.m. first serve in sophomore recognition night.

Jayla Brehmer, one of the nine sophomores that will be recognized Friday night, said the team played well Thursday night.

“Tonight I think we had a pretty good solid game,” Brehmer said. “Everybody came together and we got the win.”

It was a contest where the sets were close but the Cougars only trailed four times all match and had several players pick up either service points or kills.

Brehmer, from Rushville, said it is important that the team keeps playing strong as they begin the regional tournament next Wednesday in Casper, Wyoming.

“We really want to get that top seed to make it easier for us to make it to nationals,” Brehmer said. “Getting these last two wins is very important so that we can keep at number one.” 

Seven different players finished with a kill while nine players got a service point. Fava led the way with 15 points while also getting seven points. Alex Hernandez tallied seven kills with four points, while Emmalei Mapu had six kills. Ale Meoni finished with five kills and six points, while Jenna Curtis had six kills and three points.

Juliana Oliveira tallied three kills while Brehmer had one kill and two points. 

Shanelle Martinez finished with 12 points with two kills along with five digs and 38 set assists. 

WNCC started the first set leading 4-1 and later 5-1, but saw Otero tie things at 6-6. WNCC led 11-10 when Fava hammered home a kill and Martinez had four service points to go up 16-10. The Cougars led 20-12 on a Fava kill and then Meoni finished off the set with four straight service points and the 25-13 lead.

The second set saw WNCC lead 2-0 only to watch Otero come back to grab a 3-2 lead on two ace serves by Morgan Hammermeister. The Rattlers went up 7-6. WNCC knotted things at 7-7 on a Curtis and Hernandez block. Hernandez then served four straight for an 11-7 lead.

The two teams swapped points until Fava got a kill and then served three straight points for a 19-12 lead. WNCC won the second set 25-18.

The third set saw Otero lead 3-1 on two points from Logan Conlin. Fava stopped the run and then Martinez served six straight for an 8-3 lead. WNCC led 12-5 after two Fava points. The Cougars went up 19-12 on a Brehmer kill and later 22-14 after a Lexi Keoho point. Leading 22-15, Brehmer hammered down a kill and then served the final two points for the 25-15 win.

WNCC also got 12 digs and two points from AK Chavez, while Meoni had five digs. Megan Bewley had two digs while Shae Hardy had two assists.

Brehmer said Friday will be a special night since it will be the last time the nine sophomores will be playing at Cougar Palace. The nine sophomores include Brehmer, Curtis, Fava, Meoni, Hernandez, Keoho, Chavez, Oliveira, and Angel Nahinu. 

Brehmer said it will be emotional after the game.

“It is very special and very memorable because playing the last two years with all these girls has been really fun and means a lot to us,” Brehmer said. “It is kind of like us coming together saying our goodbyes in a way to WNCC.”

    The Gordon-Rushville graduate said she had a great two years and has grown a lot as a player and person in her time at WNCC.

    “I think I have grown immensely from coming in here my freshman year,” Brehmer said. “Passing, hitting and everything has improved over the past two years.”

    Brehmer said it will be different for the team after playing their last home game Friday night.

    “It definitely will be different. The pressure will be on because after this, it will just be regionals and from there we hope to make it to nationals,” she said. “The season is coming to an end for sure.”

    And that is why Brehmer said they want to go out Friday night with a bang. WNCC will be looking to go 10-0 in conference play with a win against Trinidad State.

    “Tomorrow night will be special,” she said.