Afterward, NWC head coach Shaun Pohlman was left shaking his head.
“The stats say we played a great game, but it didn’t translate to the scoreboard,” said Pohlman. “I mean, we had three players in double figures for kills. We had a pair of double-doubles out there. You would expect that we won looking at that.”
The Trappers certainly had their chances to win. The team held a 21-16 lead in the first game, but surrendered nine of the final 11 points to Rocky to let it slip away.
Northwest was plagued by six service errors in that game, including two during the Bears’ decisive late run.
The Trappers shook off their late struggles to leap out to a big lead early in game two. Northwest scored the first six points on a variety of kills, blocks and an ace serve. The team kept its foot on the accelerator and built that lead to 20-10 as freshman Ana Jakovljevic pounded five kills to spearhead the Trapper attack.
A late run by Rocky trimmed the margin in half before Northwest was able to serve for game point to draw level at a game apiece.
The Bears’ late game two surge continued into game three. Rocky scored 11 of the first 15 points to quickly take control of things. The Trappers fought back to within two midway through the third game, but had their run answered by five consecutive Rocky Mountain points. The spurt re-established a wide lead for the Bears and Northwest never got closer than three points the rest of the game.
In the final game, Northwest and Rocky opened in a back-and-forth fashion, exchanging one-point leads. With the Trappers up 6-5, Rocky Mountain was able to break the trend, scoring seven of eight points in one stretch to go up 12-7. The Trappers fought back to tie the game at 14, then pulled into a three-point lead at 19-16.
That lead was short-lived, however. Three straight points by Rocky knotted the contest and the teams resumed a trade of back-and-forth one-point leads. Trailing 24-23, Northwest fought off match point by the Bears on a thunderous kill from freshman Felicity Zegarelli. Zegarelli struck again from the left side to provide the Trappers with a shot at game point, but Northwest surrendered three consecutive points as Rocky extended and then closed out the game.
Jakovljevic finished with 18 kills to lead the team and also produced 23 digs for a double-double. Zegarelli added 17 kills and 17 digs for another double-double by the Trappers. Sophomore Becky Downs also finished in double figures with 10 kills for Northwest College.
Downs was also the Trappers’ blocking leader with two solo and four assisted blocks in the contest. Mikaela Heble finished with 28 assists for Northwest. Allyson Mahon, still filling in for the injured Katie Burnett at libero, paced the Trappers with 33 digs.
“The stats say we played with great defensive effort, but it seemed to me that it came in spurts,” said Pohlman. “You need to either be consistently good or very lucky, and since we can’t control luck we need to improve our consistency.”
Pohlman did note his Trapper team had shown some signs of improvement over their previous weekend performance in Idaho.
“I thought our passing and setting was more consistent tonight than what it was at the tournament,” said Pohlman. “We saw some progression. We saw some kids step up at times. Now we need to focus on controlling the tempo through the beginning, middle and end of the game.”
Northwest College travels to Colby, Kan., this weekend. The team will face Trinidad State, Mid-Plains and Southeastern Nebraska, in addition to the host school.