NWC volleyball concludes impressive season in Casper

Posted 4/6/21

Through its ups and downs, 2021 was a landmark season for Northwest College volleyball. 

The Trappers wrapped up the campaign Wednesday, falling in four sets against Otero (25-23, 15-25, …

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NWC volleyball concludes impressive season in Casper

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Through its ups and downs, 2021 was a landmark season for Northwest College volleyball. 

The Trappers wrapped up the campaign Wednesday, falling in four sets against Otero (25-23, 15-25, 25-23, 25-17) in the Region IX Tournament play-in match. Their overall record finished at 13-12, nearly tripling NWC’s 2019 win total of five.

With his team hitting .153 combined in the four sets, first-year head coach Scott Keister was pleased overall with his team’s performance.

“To see them come together and play the way they did, you can walk out of the gym and feel pretty good,” Keister said, “because we at least didn’t lose because we sucked. Performance wise, they did really well.”

In the second set, NWC played some of its best volleyball of the year, committing just four errors and hitting .318. Winning the point tied the match at 1-1.

It was the team’s engagement — from starters and bench players — that stood out in this stellar set. 

“The enthusiasm from the bench, the support from the bench,” Keister said. “They were giving them tactical stuff — stuff I wanted to see all year finally came out.”

While set two was the only point won by NWC, the Trappers showed fight in all of the other three. Otero rushed to an early four-point lead in the third set, but after Keister called a timeout, the team played better offense and competed until the end, eventually falling by two.

Nine Trappers played in the postseason match, and Keister singled out Shante Falslev and Sabree Adams as standouts.

The coach was impressed with Falslev’s offensive effort, recording 10 kills while also posting 14 digs. And Adams also stood out offensively, as well as on the block, leading the team with five block assists. It had “been a while since she’d put both of those together,” he said.

But more than those two players’ impressive matches, the coach cited valuable contributions from the entire roster.

“It was a good effort all the way around from everybody,” Keister said. “That’s why we walked out of there feeling pretty good.”

Although it was a strong showing to end the year, it also left the team wanting more — both in the Otero match and reflecting on the whole season.

“It’s still eating at us,” Keister said. “What if we would’ve pulled it together more consistently?”

Despite the hypotheticals of what could have been, there is much to be proud of. Not only did NWC win eight more matches than its previous season, the Trappers posted a 46-42 set record, much improved from the 26-69 set record in 2019. And they finished a spot higher in the Region IX North standings, moving up to fifth.

But make no mistake — this is only a step in Keister’s plan to turn Northwest into a juggernaut. And while the 2021 spring season is technically over, there really isn’t an offseason for the team. 

“They’re ready to get back in the gym today,” he said. “We’re going to give them a few days off and then get back to it. We’ll wrap up the season with some physical testing and see where we’re at.”

Of Northwest’s 14 players, 11 were freshmen this season, with almost every one slated to return in the fall. And sophomore Emily Baumstarck — who transferred from Sheridan last summer — will return for a third year of eligibility. 

Leading up to the fall, NWC will focus on fine tuning various areas, including getting faster arms and “being engaged but calm,” according to Keister. The Trappers will also use the time to recover after playing 25 matches in under three months.

This time off is shorter than usual, however. Because COVID-19 pushed the season to spring, only a few months stand between the start of the fall.

With a shorter break, Keister is thankful for his squad’s experience. 

“I like it in my situation right now,” the coach said. “If I was sophomore heavy, I would not want it. It keeps the train rolling: Let’s go!”

If the spring season was any indication, NWC is moving in the right direction. Other than a few letdowns, the Trappers showed significant growth, defeating a handful of strong opponents and contending with some of the nation’s top teams. 

As they set their sights on the fall, Keister’s focus remains simple: build on this steady growth. 

“Overall, I’m just really pleased,” Keister said. “I’ve never been in a situation to try to turn a program, so I’m not quite sure what my expectations were; I just wanted to be better, and that’s really all I care about. 

“We’re going to take a look at where we were this year, set some standards and go, ‘OK, next year let’s be a little better,’” he said. “As long as we’re better, just gotta keep the needle moving.”

    

Otero 3, Northwest 1

Kills — Baylee Peterson 12, Shante Falslev 10, Mollee Krum 9, Sabree Adams 4, Karli Steiner 2, Sayler Larson 1, Jacie Walker 1;

Assists — Walker 20, Steiner 19;

Aces — Paige Weimer 4, Walker 2, Adams 2;

Digs — Falslev 14, Weimer 12, Steiner 11, Peterson 8, Walker 7, Adams 2, Larson 1, Devon Curtis 1, Krum 1;

Solo blocks — Peterson 1;

Block assists — Adams 5

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