Loss at No. 13 Central knocks team from atop region
The Northwest College Trappers rode another outstanding night from NJCAA national player of the week Ana Jakovljevic and the momentum generated by a couple timely kills from local product Olivia Rogers to a 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-12 victory over No. 15 Western Wyoming on Saturday.
The win came just days after the Trappers fell to No. 13 Central Wyoming in a 15-25, 25-17, 24-26, 23-25 contest in Riverton.
“Getting the split was important,” said Trapper head coach Shaun Pohlman, whose team has lurked just outside the national top 20 in each of the past two weeks. “We’ll see how the polls shake out this week, but after losing to Central this was a very important win for us.”
Jakovljevic finished with 30 kills in the contest, marking the second time this season the freshman Trapper has surpassed 30 in a contest. Becky Downs added 11 kills and four block assists in the middle of the Trappers’ net attack. Freshman Felicity Zegarelli, seeing her most significant playing time since being sidelined with first a ruptured eardrum and then an episode of seizures, came aboard in the fourth and fifth games to finish with five kills on 11 attempts without registering an error.
In a first game where neither team was never more than a point ahead after being knotted at 11-11 until late in the proceedings, it was the Trappers who caught fire late behind a pair of Jakovljevic kills and a block and kill from Downs to score the 25-22 victory. After falling behind 13-7 early in game two, the Trappers found life again, rallying to tie the game at 16-16.
That marked a bizarre sequence of events in which Western Wyoming coach Rick Reynolds received a yellow card warning from the head official. Reynolds protested that play wasn’t halted so he could receive an explanation on a ruling made on a previous point awarded to the Trappers.
After Northwest scored a point on a ball hit off a Western blocker out of bounds — a call the Mustangs’ coach disagreed with — and a lift call whistled against the Mustangs on the next point, play was halted as Reynolds inquired about the procedure for protesting the game. The extended discussion near the scorer’s table lasted several minutes, possibly giving his team on the court a chance to regroup. Once play resumed, Western was able to score six of the final 10 points to grab a narrow 25-23 win and level the contest at a game apiece.
The peculiarities of the match continued following the intermission between games two and three as the Mustangs had barely returned to the floor as the whistle for the start of game three was sounded. Players continued to run to the Western bench even after players had taken the floor for the game.
Perhaps aided by the disorganization, the Trappers scored 10 of the game’s first 11 points. Northwest did not allow Western Wyoming to draw closer than six points until late in the game. Ahead 24-15, it took Northwest seven chances to score the decisive 25th point, giving the game a deceptively close final margin and moving the Trappers to within a game of the win.
That win would have to wait, however. Western opened game four with greater fire, building a 14-8 advantage on the scoreboard. Northwest fought to within 21-20 late, but four straight points from Western forced a tiebreak fifth game.
“Olivia responded well,” Pohlman said of the sophomore’s performance in game five. “I had taken her out in the fourth game because she was struggling a bit. For her to respond that way when we needed it with two kills to really shift the momentum of the match was huge.”
Triniti Taylor had a career-high 58 assists in the contest. Katie Burnett had 30 digs to go along with 19 by Jakovljevic.
The Trappers, now 16-11 overall and 7-2 in Region IX North play, host Laramie County Community College at 7 p.m. on Friday night. The team plays host to Eastern Wyoming in a 3 p.m. Saturday game.
The Trappers currently trail Western Wyoming by half a game in the regional standings.
“Our entire region is so balanced from top to bottom that anything can happen on any night,” said Pohlman. “You can’t overlook anyone and you have to come ready to play to every game. It will be a lot of fun come the regional tournament.”
Northwest College plays host to the Region IX North tournament, which takes place Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at Cabre Gymnasium.