The Northwest College volleyball team finished the regular season on the road over the weekend, falling to Laramie County Community College Friday before rebounding with a straight set win over Eastern Wyoming Saturday.
“This weekend was a better overall performance for us,” said Lady Trapper setter Jess Ruffing. “We didn’t win a set against LCCC, but we didn’t have a set where we fell apart.”
With the weekend split, the Lady Trappers (14-12, 8-6) clinched the No. 2 seed in the Region IX North, avoiding a play-in game heading into this week’s Region IX tournament in Cheyenne. Northwest will open the tournament Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday’s play-in game between Central Wyoming and Otero College.
LCCC 3, Lady Trappers 0
Against division-leading LCCC (18-4, 12-0 in Region IX) on Friday in Cheyenne, the Lady Trappers lost in straight sets 25-20, 25-16, 25-20. However, NWC head coach Bethany Conde said the match’s outcome didn’t necessarily reflect the quality of play.
“I’m not terribly disappointed in the way we played,” Conde said. “LCCC is a very good team. They have a couple of really strong hitters. But it’s one of those things where I truly don’t feel like the scores showed how well we played. I was OK with Friday night.”
Mental mistakes, which have been the bane of the team’s existence this season, were held at a minimum. It’s an aspect of the game the Lady Trappers have worked hard to eradicate.
“It’s definitely been better than what it has been,” Conde said. “We still make those mistakes — at one point in the third set it was 20-17 LCCC, but then we missed three serves in a row. But overall it’s been better than it has been, and they’ve worked really hard on that.”
Tammy Maddock and Ruffing led the offense with eight kills and seven kills, respectively. Neither player had any hitting errors out of a combined 28 attempts.
“Tammy and Jess both played very well,” Conde said. “They did a really good job putting the ball down and eliminating the errors.”
Shania Warren added five kills, while Eirini Matsouka finished with four, to go along with her team-leading 10 digs.
Ruffing led the team in assists with 18, followed by Demery Dean with 12. Ruffing also finished with seven digs, while Dean led the team in blocks with three.
Lady Trappers 3, EWC 0
Of Saturday’s straight-set win over Eastern Wyoming (4-27, 3-20) Conde said, “It wasn’t our prettiest volleyball, but we got the job done in three sets, so I can’t complain too much about it.”
Eastern beat Sheridan the night before, a team that always plays the Lady Trappers tough. Northwest knew it would be in for a fight.
“We never let Eastern get on a big run,” Ruffing said. “We were on our game and ready to fight.”
While the scores were close at 25-23, 25-17, 25-20, Conde never feared the Lady Trappers were in trouble.
She thinks her squad tried “to be too perfect at placing the ball.”
Conde added, “I think they kind of went back to playing it safe, not wanting to make errors.”
After winning the first set by two points, the Lady Trappers played much better in the second, taking control of the game from the outset.
Matsouka led with with eight kills, followed by Andjela Bublic with seven. Warren finished with five and Maddock and Ruffing added four apiece.
Matsouka led the team with 20 digs, followed by Ruffing with 14 and Geena Graff with 13.
Ruffing and Dean each finished with 15 assists.
“Everybody contributed. It just wasn’t a high-stat type of match,” Conde said. “I’m glad they got it done in three — that’s always a huge thing for us.”
Conde said the team will continue to work on the little things as they head into the playoffs, and she’s happy with where the team is at — both in the way the team is playing and from a mental standpoint.
“I think the girls are excited, and being that second seed is kind of a big boost for them,” Conde said. “I don’t think people expected much from us, with all the things going on with a coaching change. I think the team has done a great job winning the games that needed to be won. We’re excited.”
Freshman libero Madyson Chavez echoed that sentiment.
“I look forward to hitting the road and finishing out the season strong with my team,” she said. “We will see some good competition this week and I couldn’t be more excited.”