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November 13, 2008 2:57 am

NWC's volleyball season cut short by Casper College

Written by Tribune Staff

End of the road

The Northwest College Lady Trappers had their volleyball season come to a disappointing end at the hands of Casper College Saturday night at the Region IX North Tournament in Cheyenne.

Top-seeded NWC (41-10) cruised into the championship round of the four-day tournament by claiming consecutive match victories against eighth-seeded Miles Community College, fourth-seeded Western Wyoming Community College (25-17, 25-13, 25-16) and second-seeded Casper College (25-23, 25-21, 25-23).

NWC's third victory, the decision over Casper on day three of the event, came during the tournament's semifinal round. Casper, after the loss to the Lady Trappers, rebounded with a victory against Western Wyoming (25-21, 21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12) during the 2 p.m. match Saturday. That decision landed the Thunderbirds in a rematch with the Lady Trappers in the championship game. Because NWC was undefeated entering the title tilt, Casper also faced the prospect of having to win back-to-back matches against head coach Flavia Siqueira's team Saturday. Casper did exactly that, forcing the Lady Trappers to settle for the title of tournament runner-up.

The Thunderbirds defeated NWC 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 21-25, 25-18) in the championship round at 4 p.m. and forced a tournament-deciding second title game. The outcome of that contest, which was played 10 minutes after the conclusion of the initial title matchup, was reminiscent of the previous one. Casper again emerged victorious in four sets (23-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22), giving them three victories in a marathon span of just more than six straight hours.

“You have to credit Casper for what they did Saturday,” Siqueira said. “They played three matches in one day and won them all. I thought we played well against them, and the girls fought hard. There were just too many times throughout both matches where we couldn't get the points we needed.”

During the final match of the tournament, NWC got a number of standout performances from players in the lineup, including Carol Martin (48 assists, 30 digs), Katie Gregg (17 kills, eight blocks), Thabata Galvao (11 kills, 26 digs) and Kayla Propes (six blocks, seven kills). However, those efforts, along with those of the others on the team, weren't enough to prevent Casper for earning a second national tournament berth in as many years.

“It's really hard because we beat Casper in three on Friday,” Siqueira said. “When we got into the championship match, I think some of our kids didn't know what to expect. I thought we were in a good position to win it. We had it in our hands, but we weren't able to finish it like we wanted. That was very disappointing, but it should be good motivation for my players who are coming back next year.”

The Lady Trappers, a team that entered last year's Region IX North Tournament as bottom seed, opened this year's event with a first-round bye and crushed Miles Community College in three sets (25-21-25-14, 25-13) on day two. During that noon match last Thursday, NWC's leaders included Galvao, who finished with 11 kills and zero errors, and Martin, who had six kills, 32 assists and 18 digs. Irelis Avendano and Gregg added seven kills each.

Also on Thursday and during the 8 p.m. match, the Lady Trappers made quick work of Western Wyoming by sweeping the Mustangs in three sets — 25-17, 25-13, 25-16.

“It was for sure one of our best matches in the entire season,” Siqueira said.

Siqueira credited a number of players who recorded standout efforts, including sophomore and team captain Maddie Peterson. She finished with 13 kills and 15 digs. Other leaders were Gregg (11 kills), Avendano (nine kills), Galvao (eight kills) and Martin (three kills, 21 digs, 33 assists). Libero Marisa Shigetomi enjoyed a solid match as well, finishing with 18 perfect passes.

As a team, the Lady Trappers finished with seven assisted blocks and four solos.

During Friday's semifinal matchup against Casper College, NWC again played like a team destined for the national tournament by sweeping the Thunderbirds in three sets — 25-23, 25-21, 25-23.

“The main key for us has been team chemistry,” Siqueira said. “We definitely played as a team of 13 against Casper and everything we did — right or wrong, good or bad — we did as a team. My non-starters were focused and into the game as much as the six players on the court.”

Casper, in its attempt to neutralize the strong hitting of Galvao during the match, left other openings in their defense for the Lady Trappers to attack, which translated into 14 kills each for Peterson and Avendano. Angela Schuman added 12 kills and 15 digs.

Martin contributed with 16 digs, 40 assists and three kills, and Shigetomi had 19 perfect passes and 16 digs, according to Siqueira.

Following the tournament, a number of NWC players were selected for postseason honors. Martin and Galvao, both sophomores from Brazil, were named to the all-tournament and all-region teams. Peterson also earned a spot on the all-region squad.

As for the Thunderbirds, they earned the right to advance to Council Bluffs, Iowa — the site of this year's national tournament. That season-ending event is scheduled to begin Nov. 20.