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For the first time in months, Northwest College volleyball took the court in a match setting on Saturday. The Trappers played host to Miles Community College for back-to-back scrimmages — one at 11 a.m., and another at 2 p.m.
With the matches being exhibitions, both coaches agreed to play all five sets regardless of whether or not a team won three sets before then. NWC took both matches: the first in three sets, and the second in four.
It had been several months since any of the players last competed, so the scrimmages gave the squads an opportunity to play in a match setting before the pandemic-delayed regular season begins in January.
“I think it was good for them to feel competition again because, for most of them, it’s been almost a year,” head coach Scott Keister said. “If nothing else, it was good for them to get that environment. It’s always good to play someone else to see where you’re at and exploit your weaknesses a bit.”
Northwest took the first match over Miles Community College 25-23, 31-29, 24- 26, 14-25, 15-12, clinching the victory in the fifth set. The Trappers won more handily in scrimmage two, winning four sets (25-15, 25-20, 25-13, 25-17, 8-15).
Trapper Shante Falslev’s 17 combined kills led the team, and Karli Steiner and Baylee Peterson followed close behind with 16 and 13, respectively. Sabree Adams posted the team’s highest hitting percentage at .458.
Defensively, Paige Weimer logged a team-high 21 digs in the scrimmage, and Emma Teichert and Aubrianne Crosby notched 18 and 16, respectively. Adams also had the most blocks with 13.
While there were a handful of strong individual performances, Keister said he was most impressed by the entire team’s tenacity.
“A lot of them stood out in different moments,” Keister said. “From one to 17, everyone came in and played different roles.”
Though NWC won both scrimmages and the entire roster showed promise, Keister found several areas in need of improvement.
In particular, serving and passing were two of the Trappers’ most notable issues, as they averaged more errors than aces. Keister also noticed at the beginning of the first scrimmage that his players were trying too hard for emphatic kills, rather than just attempting to find a hole.
But the coach expects his squad to hone in on these areas as it has more time in the gym.
“We really struggled with those things, and I think every team does to start the year,” Keister said. “They want to be flashy, they want to be impressive, but at the end of the day, just make that ball hit the floor and we’re good to go.”
Now that NWC’s first scrimmage is in the books, the Trappers will continue working before their next competitions: scrimmages against Dawson Community College and Miles Community College, hosted at Miles City, Montana, on Oct. 17.
“We’re excited to get back in the gym because we have a whole notepad of stuff we need to tweak, and we’re just going to methodically go through it and get better,” Keister said. “The goal there is to be better than we were on Saturday. It will be good to play Miles again because ... we can see what changed.”