The USUE volleyball team competed in the NJC Tournament in Sterling, Colorado. The Eagles entered the contest ranked ninth in the nation. The competition marked the end of one of the most difficult preseason schedules in the country, and this year’s tournament was no exception.
The first game was against host Northeastern Junior College. This game would be a rematch from earlier this year, where the Eagles could take a narrow 3-2 victory over the Plainsmen.
This game was eerily similar to the last one. The Eagles were able to come away with a crucial win the the set.In the first game, USUE and Northeastern would trade scores back and forth all game long. After a few Plainsmen mistakes, the Eagles were able to take the game 26-24. USUE stumbled in game two, however, losing a close one 26-24. Game 3 was tight; every score proved to matter as the Eagles were able to come out with a close 25-23 win. In game 4, the Plainsmen’s offense couldn’t be stopped, and the Eagles lost 25-21. Game 5 was the decider, and it was close the whole game. With both teams trading off points, the Eagles were able to go on a bit of a run to effectively end the game and match and come away with a 3-2 victory.
It was USUE’s eleventh win of the year. Leading the Eagles was outside hitter Sammy Perry who finished with 16 kills, 3 aces, and one block. Along with middle blocker Lindsey Otero, who finished the game with 12 kills and three blocks. Defensively for the eagles was led by Emma Ricks, who finished with 35 digs.
Game two would be more of a challenge. The Eagles were up against the No. 1 team in the nation and defending national champions, Iowa Western Community. Despite the fact that Iowa Western was ranked first, the Eagles were not intimidated by the Reivers’ talent. In game one, the Eagles went out and stunned the Reivers 25-20. The momentum would go back and forth between both teams each game. Games two and three, the Eagles made a few mistakes, and against a team like Iowa Western, that will cost you. The Eagles lost game two 25-20 and game three 25-22. Game four was intense. Both teams traded scores, but the Reivers’ talent was too much for the Eagles, as Iowa Western went on to win 25-23 and the match 3-1.
Despite the loss, the Eagles had many bright spots. Alyssa Simmons led with 13 kills and five blocks, followed by Sammy Perry with 12 kills. Lindsey Otero had eight blocks, and Ashlee Mcune showed off her passing, finishing with 23 assists. Emma Ricks continues to prove why she is one of the best defensive players in junior college, finishing 23 digs alongside reliable teammate Sammy Perry who added 19 digs of her own.
The third match was another rematch from earlier this season against #20 Western Nebraska Community. The Eagles looked to put the last game behind them and attempt to eliminate their mistakes against Iowa Western. Games one and two started great. The USUE offense and defense seized control of the two games and won 25-17 and 25-18, respectively. Game three was a turning point in the series for both teams. The game went back and forth the entire game, but after a few quick scores from the Cougars, the Eagles lost a close one, 25-23. In game four the Cougars rode their momentum from the previous game and won 25-22. Game five was brutal for the Eagles as mistakes would come back to haunt the team in a 15-6 loss.
Against the Cougars, Sammy Perry had 14 kills while Lindsey Otero had eight blocks. Ashlee McUne and Camber Dodson combined for 48 assists, and defensive star Emma Ricks finished the tournament with a total of 81 digs.
The tournament certainly didn’t go as planned for The Eagles. However, the Eagles volleyball team has played against very competitive teams and has impressed many eyes along the way. The Eagles entered August with lots of expectations, and so far, the Eagles are off to the type of start they need to compete in a very tough region 18. The Eagles conference play kicks off Thursday, Sept. 23, when they travel up to Ephraim to play against rival Snow College. Then the Eagles will travel to Henderson, Nev, to take on College of Southern Nevada.
Time to pump it up