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Lady Trappers take third at Region IX tournament

Northwest College freshman Luana Rezende spikes the ball in the first set against Casper College at the NJCAA Region IX North Tournament in Sheridan on Thursday. Rezende had 14 double-double games this year and was named second team All-Conference, All Region IX North and All Tournament Team and was the Lady Trappers’ lone All-American nominee. Northwest College freshman Luana Rezende spikes the ball in the first set against Casper College at the NJCAA Region IX North Tournament in Sheridan on Thursday. Rezende had 14 double-double games this year and was named second team All-Conference, All Region IX North and All Tournament Team and was the Lady Trappers’ lone All-American nominee. Tribune photo by Breanne Thiel

Rezende, Saric and Pittman earn All-Conference honors

The Northwest College volleyball team took third in the NJCAA Region IX North Tournament in Sheridan over the weekend, playing 17 sets in four games and going 2-2 to end its year. The two wins were over Eastern Wyoming College and Casper College and the two losses came to Laramie County Community College and Sheridan College.

“Its unfortunate that our season got cut short cause I really think we just started to figure things out,” said head coach Shaun Pohlman.

The Lady Trappers were seeded No. 2 going into the tournament.

NWC 3, Eastern Wyoming 1

The first game was against the No. 7 seed, Eastern Wyoming College. The Lady Trappers won the first two sets 25-23 and 25-14. Pohlman said that he thought the first two sets were handled well by the Lady Trappers.

“There are ebbs and flows that naturally occur and sometimes you can control those in a bigger way and sometimes you can’t,” Pohlman said.

The third set was won by Eastern 25-23 but Northwest rebounded in the fourth and fought to a 29-27 victory. Three of the four sets were won by only two points.

“I think Eastern played really well,” Pohlman said, adding, “They didn’t play like they were the seventh seed and so you have to hand it to Eastern for that.”

The win over Eastern pitted the Lady Trappers against the No. 3 seed Casper College, who in the previous two encounters during the regular season had come out victorious.

But at the NJCAA Region IX North Tournament, the tides turned.

NWC 3, Casper College 2

Casper came out strong, taking a 10-0 lead and going on to win the first set 25-12. Northwest came back to take the second set.

“Turning around winning 25-14 I think was indicative of not holding onto that first set,” Pohlman said.

Both teams battled in the third set, where the Lady Trappers won 27-25. The fourth set was won by the Lady Thunderbirds 25-18 to force a fifth tie-breaker set.

Once again both teams battled and the Lady Trappers came away with a nailbiter victory of 16-14.

Of the win, Pohlman said that he felt like the team was “starting to get some things figured out.”

The win over Casper placed the Lady Trappers into the semi-final match against the No. 1 seed LCCC.

LCCC 3, NWC 1

“I felt like we competed in three sets really, really hard,” Pohlman said.

The Lady Trappers lost the first set 25-21 but came back in the second set to win 25-22.

The third set didn’t start strong, as Northwest was down 12-6 but fought back to tie the game at 14. The game was then tied again at 15 and 16 points before the Lady Trappers started to pull away.

With the score at 23-20 Northwest, a call was made against the Lady Trappers that began the switch in momentum of the game. The game tied up again at 23 and tied up seven more times before LCCC won 32-30.

In between the tie at 23 and the final score there were several questionable calls against the Lady Trappers. Asked about the officiating, Pohlman said he raised a concern about a potential conflict of interest about the head referee with the person in charge of referee assignments over a month ago.

Not wanting to take anything from LCCC, Pohlman said “they are a great team.”

The momentum swing in the third set carried into the fourth set, as the questionable calls continued. The Lady Trappers lost 25-14.

“We put everything we had in those three sets,” said Pohlman said.

LCCC is ranked 14th in the nation and had the top freshman player, overall player and setter of the year in the region.

“There’s no guarantee that we would have won  it,” Pohlman said of the game, adding that NWC “worked hard to be the victors that night.”

The loss to LCCC placed NWC against Sheridan College, where the winner would go on to the championship match against LCCC because of the double elimination bracket. The loser’s season would end, taking third place.

Sheridan 3, NWC 1

Northwest lost in four sets, winning the first set 25-20 but losing the next three: 25-17, 28-26 and 25-18.

LCCC went on to win the tournament and will represent the North in the NJCAA National Tournament.

NWC had won the Region IX North Tournament for the last four years.

At last weekend’s tourney, NWC’s Holly Pittman had 11 aces and Demery Dean had eight.

For kills, Luana Rezende had 53, Aleksandra Saric had 43, Andjela Bublic had 32, Pittman had 25, Kiandra Franklin had 19, Julianna Hughes had 15 and Shania Warren had 12.

In the dig department, Bre Donarski led with 68, Rezende had 46, Dean had 27 and Jamie Hardy had 22.

For blocks, Franklin had 18, Pittman had 15 and Hughes had 11.

“She really stepped up,” Pohlman said of Hughes, who was moved from middle to the right side. “It was great to see her play her best volleyball at the end of the year.”

Dean led in assists with 101 and Jess Ruffing had 83.

For the season, Rezende had 14 double-double games. She also was named second team All-Conference, All Region IX North and All Tournament Team and was the Lady Trappers’ lone All-American nominee.

Pittman was also honored with making the second team All-Conference, All Region IX North and All Tournament Team and Saric made the first team All-Conference as well as the All Region IX North and All Tournament Team.

The Lady Trappers ended the season with an overall record of 17-14, rebounding from a 1-8 start.

“When you’re 1-8 for the season, you risk losing for the season in terms of buy-in and so to be able to come around and still make a winning season out of it despite that setback,” Pohlman said. “It’s hard to look at the season as a complete loss even if it’s not where we finished in the last four years.”

Pohlman said that, at some point during the tournament, everyone who played played their best volleyball of the season.

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