After fighting off early season adversity to claim the top seed at the regional tournament, the Trappers found themselves fighting a new batch of adversity to start the event. Three players were forced to sit out the first two games of the team’s opening-round contest against Casper College for what head coach Shaun Pohlman described as “a violation of team rules.”
The Trappers ultimately lost that contest 25-19, 25-13, 25-22. The defeat knocked the team into the elimination bracket and forced the Trappers to have to win five consecutive games to reach the national tournament.
They started that process impressively, sweeping Sheridan 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, but couldn’t match that performance the following day against Western Wyoming, the tournament’s No. 2 seed and an upset victim at the hands of Laramie County the previous day.
Western Wyoming eliminated NWC by a 26-28, 25-15, 25-15, 25-20 final score.
“It was an unfortunate situation,” Pohlman said of the rules violation that placed his team in a difficult spot to begin the tournament. “We had some people break team rules and they had to serve out the consequences for their actions. At the same time, we need to be stronger than just the surface. We need to be able to hold under that sort of adversity when we have players unable to go.”
The Trappers also had the misfortune of facing a Casper College team that Pohlman said was playing its best volleyball of the year at that time.
“I’m not going to throw out the entire season over one bad week,” said Pohlman. “We still finished No. 20 in the nation. We still won a conference title. We just live. We learn and we move on. I’m excited about what we did this year and I’m excited about what we have coming back.”
The Trappers also snatched a number of postseason awards. Ana Jakovljevic was named both the Region IX player of the year and freshman of the year after a season that saw her named national player of the week twice. Katie Burnett earned Region IX libero of the year honors and Pohlman was named the Region IX coach of the year.
Jakovljevic, Burnett, Becky Downs and Triniti Taylor were all selected to the all-Region IX team. That foursome also earned all-conference honors with Burnett and Jackoljevic both named to the all-conference first team, Downs to the second team and Taylor to the honorable mention list.
Jakovljevic, Burnett and Downs were also named to the all-tournament team from this past week’s action. Burnett and Downs were both sophomores on this year’s team.
Casper College eventually defeated Western Wyoming in the championship game and will represent Region IX North at the 2012 national championships.