Straight-Set Win Against Sheridan Highlights Week
With the end of the regular season in sight, the Northwest College volleyball team split a pair of matches against Region IX North opponents, winning at home but dropping the final regular-season road contest.
The Lady Trappers (5-17, 4-9 in conference) beat Sheridan (9-23, 3-13 in conference) in straight sets on Thursday night at Cabre Gym. They then fell to Casper (8-22, 7-9 in conference) by a similar 3-0 score on Saturday afternoon on the road.
LADY TRAPPERS 3, SHERIDAN 0
The Lady Trappers continued their stellar play in the friendly confines of Cabre Gym with a straight-set win Thursday, though Sheridan kept it close (25-21, 25-21, 25-17).
“... I thought we came out ready to go,” said NWC head coach Valerie Rivera. “We were in control the whole first set, and it showed with how dynamic we were on the court. We were communicating and we were doing our jobs.”
NWC showed a little fortitude in the second set after spotting the Lady Generals a 8-1 lead.
“... I called a timeout to settle them down and reassess our game plan,” Rivera said. “We were able to come out of that timeout and tie it and we never looked back.”
Going into the third set, Rivera told the team not to take their foot off the gas; down 2-0, Sheridan would be playing like they had nothing to lose.
“I told the girls that now is when you push this team to give up,” she said. “You are in control up 2-0, but that doesn’t mean that we can relax and allow them back into the match ... We talk more, we bring more energy and we want it that much more now. We looked really great against Sheridan and it was great for our crowd to see and engage with.”
Mollee Krum and Eirini Matsouka led the offense with 18 and 17 kills, respectively, while Geena Graf led in digs with 19.
Matsouka and Madyson Chavez finished with six digs apiece, while Kaylie Critchfield had 33 assists.
“Mollee Krum really got going offensively like she had when we were in Sheridan [Oct. 3] and I think that Geena Graf stepped up for us defensively by reading the block and playing every single ball until the whistle was blown,” Rivera said. “We got a great team win against Sheridan, and I think that style of play is what we need in the next four matches leading into the Region IX tournament.”
CASPER 3, LADY TRAPPERS 0
This season may have felt like a never-ending bus ride for the Lady Trappers, but a quick trip to Casper Saturday finally put an end to the road portion of their schedule.
Unfortunately, it was a pared-down version of the team that made the trip for NWC, as a few of the team’s starters were unable to participate. Their loss was felt, as Casper rolled to a straight-set win (25-12, 25-12, 25-17).
“... I thought that we were timid for the first two sets of the match — in the third we were finally able to get going,” Rivera said. “We were without a few players, but I thought we handled the adversity well.”
With a reduced roster, Rivera was able to start players who haven’t logged a lot of court time this season, giving them the opportunity to capitalize on their hard work in practice.
“The aspects that I liked from the match against Casper was the 100 percent effort,” Rivera said. “We knew going in that we would be at a disadvantage, but all I wanted from the group was effort. To play with more talk, more fire and to play each ball until the whistle was blown.”
Krum again was the kill leader with 10, followed by four from Chavez and two each from Sierra Sinclair and Devon Curtis. Krum also had three aces. Ryan Blaylock finished with 12 digs, followed by Britney Ogg with six and Chavez and Natalie Ostermiller with five apiece. Critchfield had 16 assists.
“The player who stepped up for us was Ryan Blaylock,” Rivera said. “She was in the libero spot for us against Casper and she did very well. She was picking up a lot of balls and was dictating the back row very well.”
The Lady Trappers finally have a multi-game home stand this weekend, hosting Western Wyoming Friday and Central Wyoming Saturday.
“We need to improve on walking into a gym with confidence,” she said. “I am a huge believer in how you walk into a gym is going to dictate how you will do in a match. We always seem to step onto an opponent’s court with the mindset that won’t win games.”
Rivera said the key to success will be getting the offense back on track.
“In order for us to be successful this weekend we need our offensive players to get going again,” she said. “They did well against Casper and we need that energy to roll through, because both Western and Central have various players who can score — we need to be able to counter them as much as possible.”
Rivera is also looking forward to her team playing in front of their home crowd, something they will be able to repeat the following weekend to close out the regular season.
“Returning home is the best feeling, to know that our last matches will all be played on our home court and in front of our fans,” she said. “I truly think both matches will be great for growth as we head near the end of the season. I tell the girls we need to get 1 percent better every day, and I believe that we can win both of those matches if we truly set ourselves with that objective.”