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NWC Trappers take Region IX North lead

Wins at Sheridan, Casper lift volleyball to top of standings

The Northwest College volleyball team took over the top spot in Region IX North volleyball play over the weekend with wins at Sheridan College and Casper College. The victories improve the Trappers to 15-10 overall and 6-1 in regional play entering the season’s final month.

“The girls have worked hard to get to this position, but this is temporary,” said Trapper head coach Shaun Pohlman. “This is only for this week. We have to keep working hard and putting in that effort if we want to hold on to it.”

The Trappers opened the weekend with a 26-24, 25-19, 25-14 sweep of Sheridan College on Friday. The result was more impressive considering the Trappers were forced to deal with a pre-game medical situation.

“We were driving to the ER at 5:45 p.m.,” Pohlman said of the night where his team’s game against Sheridan was slated for a 7 p.m. start time. “It was just a freak situation.”

Already down two players due to injuries earlier in the season, the Trappers suddenly found themselves without the services of sophomore Becky Downs, who was later diagnosed to be suffering from the effects of dehydration. Losing his 6-2 middle blocker forced Pohlman and the Trappers to improvise.

Bakersfield, Calif., freshman Nicolette Bloomer was tagged to take Downs’ position on the Trappers’ frontline, despite having never played or practiced as a middle blocker previously. Bloomer answered the call with five kills and only one error in 11 attempts in the contest. She also took part in three blocks at the net.

“She filled in superb,” said Pohlman. “For having never played middle at all, she did a tremendous job. Really, that goes for the whole team as well, to step up and win that first game with everything that happened just before really says something about the character of our team.”

Ana Jakovljevic finished with 20 kills. Katie Burnett added 17 digs and defensive specialist Allyson Mahon added 10 digs. Triniti Taylor finished with 34 assists.

Against Casper, the Trappers’ streak of 3-0 victories was snapped as the T-birds captured game one, 19-25. Northwest stormed back for a win in game two, 25-14, and then fought through a tightly contested game three, 26-24. After Casper bounced back with a lopsided win in game four, 12-25, the Trappers comfortably won the decisive fifth game by a 15-9 count.

Jakovljevic finished with 34 kills and a .441 hitting percentage on 59 attempts. The dominating performance caught even Pohlman off guard.

“I had to go back and re-chart the game,” Pohlman said. “I just could not believe when I saw the final stats that she had that many kills.”

Not only did Jakovljevic throw up an impressive kill total, but the freshman also posted 10 digs to give her a 10th double-double this season. Ainsley Oates added 12 kills and Downs was back on the floor 24 hours after her ER visit to finish with eight kills. Olivia Rogers finished with a .556 hitting percentage with five kills on nine attempts.

“That was a big for Olivia,” said Pohlman. “She’d been struggling of late, so it was nice to see her break through like that against Casper.”

Taylor finished with 54 assists and 10 digs to give the Trappers another double-double. Burnett led the way with 19 digs from the libero’s position.

The Trappers won’t have much time to enjoy their spot atop the regional standings. Northwest returns to action on Wednesday to face the only Region IX North team to defeat the Trappers this season when it travels to No. 13 Central Wyoming College. Northwest returns home on Saturday for a 3 p.m. afternoon game against No. 14 Western Wyoming.

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