The Northwest College volleyball team finished sixth at last weekend’s NJCAA National Volleyball Tournament in Casper.
In their opening match, Lady Trappers rallied to win in five games against Tyler Junior College. NWC won the first game 25-21, lost the next two 25-18, 25-19, then rallied for wins of 25-21 and 15-10 to take the match.
Lauga Gauta led the statistical tally for the Lady Trappers with 18 kills and 11 digs. Mikayla Sellers-Weibe had 10 kills, Lauryn Dela Cruz 10 kills and Alye Wagner recorded 10 digs.
“Our team has a tendency to rally after being down,” NWC coach Shaun Pohlman said. “We let ourselves get our back against the wall before fighting back. This team is kind of reactive on the floor, but after a while they don’t like being pushed around.”
Advancing into the quarterfinals after the first round win, NWC lost 3-1 to second-seeded Iowa Western Community College.
After losing 25-20, 25-15 in the first two games, the Lady Trappers won 25-18 in the third game. IWCC finished off the match with a 25-18 win in the fourth game.
Gauta again led the way at the net for NWC with 24 kills and six digs. Wagner had nine digs and Holly Pittman added a trio of service aces.
“We were down two sets before we did anything worthwhile,” Pohlman said. “They seemed to like to wait to fight. It’s not always a bad thing, because we were able to come back during the season. But that’s not really what you want playing against the top teams in the country.”
NWC came back to beat third-seeded Western Nebraska Community College in the fifth-place semifinals. Despite a loss in the opener, the Lady Trappers won the match.
Coming back from a 25-21 loss in the opening game, NWC then won 25-18, 25-23 and 25-22 to stay alive in the tournament. Gauta had 26 kills, Dela Cruz nine kills and 11 digs, and Wagner 12 kills.
“They were all close games but we pulled them out,” Pohlman said. “They beat us in 2013 and also last year at nationals, so we have a little history with them at the tourney. That was a match our kids were proactive and knew they had to fight from the beginning.”
In the fifth-place match on Saturday, NWC lost to Salt Lake Community College. The first game was close, but the Lady Trappers came up short in a 25-22 loss.
“It was a battle right to the end and there was a controversial call that went against us down the stretch,” Pohlman said. “The first set ended with me arguing the call and it kind of carried over to the next game.”
Salt Lake took a commanding lead with a 25-16 win in the second game. Northwest came back with a 25-22 win in the third game, but SLCC finished off the match with a 25-16 win.
“They play in a tough conference and were well prepared for us,” Pohlman said. “Being a seventh seed, the odds were against us but we competed hard in every match.”
inal statistics included Gauta with 17 kills and 14 digs, Dela Cruz with 11 digs and 11 kills and Wagner added 17 digs.
NWC finished with a 24-9 overall record. This was the fourth year in a row the Lady Trappers qualified for nationals, and the fifth straight year with 20 wins in a season.
(Scott Kolb can be reached at email@example.com.)