The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team left for the national tournament Monday morning with hopes of bringing home the school’s third national title.

The Cougar women enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed and will play 13th-seeded Blinn College Thursday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. MST in West Plains, Missouri. The players said they need to play their game and play with a lot of energy to be successful at nationals to accomplish the next goal for the season and that is a national title.

“I think we have had a lot of high expectations for this season in general,” Ogallala graduate Jenna Curtis said after the college held a send-off celebration for the team. “So going down to nationals, we are expected to win.”

The Cougars captured their 22nd Region IX title and have national titles in 2007 and 2010. The team also finished runner-up at the national tournament three times in 2006, 2012, and 2015. The Cougars have been in the Final Four 10 times.

“Our first goal was to win the region and that is what we were here to do,” Curtis said. “But now, we are on to the next step and that is to win the national tournament. It is pretty cool that we have come this far especially since last year, so to finish it would be so much better.”

The Cougar's goal is to finish the unfinished business and that is exactly what they have plans to do. Last year, the Cougars finished fourth at the regional tournament and that feeling left a bitter taste in the players’ mouths.

“I think we know most of the teams that are there and we know we can beat them. We just have to finish business,” sophomore Erica Fava said. “We knew how good this team was going to be from last year. We just have the potential to do something really special and I think the unfinished business is something that took us to where we are now.”

WNCC enters the national tournament at 32-3 while Blinn has a 33-9 record. The last time these two teams played was back in April 2021 at the national tournament in West Plains, Missouri, and the Buccaneers earned a sweep over the Cougars. This will be the fourth time that WNCC and Blinn have faced each other with Blinn winning twice in those three matches.

Gordon-Rushville graduate Jayla Brehmer said they have high expectations this weekend.

“We have high expectations to go in there and do our thing and get that dub,” Brehmer said. “I feel all the hard work has paid off.”

For the team to be successful at nationals, they need to play with a lot of energy and not play like they did in a five-set win over Casper College at regionals. They, in fact, need to play like they did in the four-set win over Central Wyoming for the Regional title in which it was one of the best matches they played all season.

“We can’t afford to play a game like we did against Casper,” Curtis said. “It will take our energy and the energy from the bench. It will take everybody.”

The tournament runs Thursday through Saturday with the championship game slated for Saturday evening and the championship will be televised on ESPN+.