Bloomer triggers late rally for Northwest
For the longest time, it didn’t look like Tuesday night was Nicolette Bloomer’s night. Through three games, the Bakersfield, Calif., freshman carried a negative hitting percentage against No. 16 Casper College, meaning she’d amassed more errors than successful hits.
“You see something like that and sometimes you ask yourself as a coach if you have the right person out there,” said Northwest College head volleyball coach Shaun Pohlman. “It’s one of those things where you question, do I leave this kid in or do I try someone else. Usually, I like to give the player one more chance to prove to me that they can do the job.”
Bloomer roared to life in the fourth game, accounting for six kills and a pair of blocks. The sudden outburst helped the Trappers avoid the need for a fifth set in a 25-20, 25-18, 18-25, 26-24 victory that was Northwest’s second straight victory against an opponent ranked in the national top 20.
Nowhere was Bloomer’s presence felt more than just after the midway point of game four. With the Trappers trailing 17-12, Bloomer sandwiched a kill and two solo blocks at the net between a pair of Olivia Rogers kills. The spurt was part of a seven-point run by the Trappers following a time out.
“We just reminded the girls that we were down 11-6 against (10th-ranked) Western (Wyoming), that we’d been down 24-22 to them and fought back to win,” said Pohlman. “We just told them to stay focused because we’d been here before and to keep playing.”
After building a 19-17 lead, the Trappers fell behind again. Casper was serving for game point at 24-22, but another Bloomer kill fought off the point. A hitting error by the T-Birds leveled the score at 24-24 and the Trappers closed out the game with a kill from sophomore Becky Downs and an ace serve from freshman Kayla Van Hee.
“Nicolette stepping up was the turning point. Had she not done that...” Pohlman said, trailing off as the magnitude of the win took meaning.
Northwest didn’t appear destined for a dramatic evening early on. The Trappers and Casper treated the crowd to a see-saw start to game one. Neither team was able to chain together more than two successive points until Northwest uncorked a streak of six straight scores to transform a 16-15 scoreboard deficit into a 21-16 advantage. Northwest closed out the game a short while later.
The Trappers jumped on Casper early in game two, striking for the first five points and building a 14-7 lead. Casper chopped that gap back to 14-11 before Northwest reeled off a string of six consecutive points, aided by a pair of Downs kills from her middle position. Casper never got closer than five points after that as the Trappers grabbed a two-game lead going to intermission.
Game three began on a differnt note. A series of serving errors prevented the team from grabbing an early lead against Casper. The T-Birds used runs of 4-0 and 5-0 to open daylight between themselves and Northwest on the scoreboard to capture game three comfortably.
“We begged the girls at the break not to give up,” said Pohlman. “We told them Casper wasn’t going to quit. They’re a good team. They’re not going to come in here and give up, but then you saw what happened. We relaxed a bit on our serving and that carried over to other areas of the game and we relaxed our play too much elsewhere.
“We need to fix whatever our issue is with the third game,” said Pohlman. “If you look at our recent games, a lot of times we come out and take care of business in game one and game two. We need to bring that intensity into game three now. You see what we’re capable of.”
Fans inside Cabre Gymnasium also got the chance to see, again, the capabilities of Serbian freshman Ana Jakovljevic. Jakovljevic unleashed her third consecutive game of more than 20 kills. Jakovljevic finished the night with 24 kills, three ace serves, two solo blocks and 13 digs, giving her a double-double.
Downs added 13 kills, giving the Trappers two double-figure performers at the net. Triniti Taylor added 28 assists and eight digs. Katie Burnett had 27 digs from the libero position to lead Northwest.
“You really have to hand it to the heart Triniti showed with tonight,” said Pohlman. “Our other setter was having a bit of an off night and we really needed Triniti to do what she did for us. She got the ball where it needed to be.”
With the victory, the Trappers improve to 6-6 overall on the season and 2-1 in Region IX North play. Northwest has now won six of its last seven games, the last two victories coming against ranked opponents in Western Wyoming and Casper.
The Trappers head to North Idaho College this weekend. In addition to the host Cardinals, who moved up to No. 2 in the latest national rankings, the Trappers will also face Central Arizona, Sheridan and the University of Great Falls, The Trappers do not play again at home until Oct. 13.
Jakovljevic earns national honor
NJCAA names Trapper freshman player of the week
Northwest College freshman Ana Jakovljevic was named the Division I volleyball national player of the week by the National Junior College Athletic Association on Wednesday. Jakovljevic earned the honor after a pair of outstanding games against Central Wyoming and at No. 10 Western Wyoming.
“That’s tremendous,” said Trapper volleyball coach Shaun Pohlman upon learning of the honor Wednesday morning. “That’s just outstanding.”
The 6-0 outside hitter from Valjevo, Serbia, began her week with 23 kills and 27 digs in a Region IX North loss to Central Wyoming in Powell. Last Friday, she produced 22 kills while hitting at an eye-popping .576 clip against 10th-ranked Western Wyoming, a contest the Trappers won in four games.
Although it didn’t factor into the national honor, Jakovljevic continued her blistering pace Tuesday night with 24 kills in the Trappers four-game win over No. 16 Casper College.
The Trappers play four games this weekend at the North Idaho tournament.