After starting the 2019 season with six straight losses, the Northwest College volleyball team has tasted success, with a 3-2 win over Miles Community College in their home opener Sept. 3 and a …
After starting the 2019 season with six straight losses, the Northwest College volleyball team has tasted success, with a 3-2 win over Miles Community College in their home opener Sept. 3 and a straight-set win against Rocky Mountain JV in the Sheridan Volleyfall Classic Sept. 7.
The Lady Trappers squared off against a familiar foe for their home opener in MCC, a team NWC has faced twice already this season. The Lady Pioneers came away with wins in both contests, 3-0 in the season opener in Casper and 3-1 in Miles City.
But the third time proved to be the charm for the Lady Trappers, who picked up their first win of the season in a 3-2 slugfest that came down to the match’s final point. In a night that also served as a fundraiser for injured PHS football player Ethan Asher, Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better ending.
“It was amazing, the home crowd definitely helped us,” said first-year head coach Valerie Rivera. “It was great to have the support of not only the community, but other athletic teams on campus. To see them in the stands cheering the girls on was just awesome.”
NWC took the first set 25-22, but the Lady Pioneers answered in the second, 25-15. The Lady Trappers won another close one in the third 25-23; MCC answered with a 25-23 win of their own to force a fifth set.
In what was a back and forth battle from the first point, the Lady Trappers dug deep, winning the final two points to secure the 16-14 win and the match.
“It was just an amazing night, I was so proud of the team for fighting until the end,” Rivera said.
Eirini Matsouka led the way in kills for NWC with 31, followed by Sidney Ostergaard with 11 and Mollee Krum with six.
“Obviously, the standout player for us was Eirini [Matsouka], she was on the outside the whole night,” Rivera said. “She led us offensively, and I think she was the game changer for us. She luckily was in the rotation at the end of that fifth set — she got up on the front row when it was 13-13 and we needed some points. We gave her the ball and she put it away for us.”
Madyson Chavez led the team in digs with 17, followed by Geena Graf with 10. Kaylie Critchfield had 34 assists, while Ryan Blaylock served four aces.
“Madyson [Chavez] in our libero outfit that night, she definitely put some balls up and helped us defend,” Rivera said. “All of our defensive players did well — Geena Graf played well, Ryan [Blaylock] played well. Defensively, we have all bought in to the fact that they need to pick up as many balls as they possibly can. They’ve got it in their heads that they can change the game for us.”
After dropping matches to Colorado Northwestern (25-22, 25-17, 25-20) and Western Wyoming (25-15, 25-20, 25-14) in straight sets to open the Sheridan Volleyfall Classic, the Lady Trappers picked up their second win of the season with a 3-0 win over Rocky Mountain JV.
NWC closed out the tournament with a 3-0 loss to MCC (25-23, 25-20, 25-17).
“I’m glad we got the win out of Rocky Mountain, but we definitely saw strides against the other three teams we played,” Rivera said. “Facing the competition we did, it’s good to see the girls step up when they need to because we struggled a bit in serve-receive. But our offense was able to balance it out.”
The Lady Trappers were without Matsouka, who missed the tournament with an injury. Chavez — who the coach described as the team’s “most reliable player” — stepped in as an outside hitter for the weekend while Caitlyn Costa and Devon Curtis also helped.
“I think our middles stepped up and were that offensive spark we needed, but it was hard for them to carry the entire load,” Rivera said.
In the win against Rocky Mountain, Ostergaard led the team with 11 kills, followed by Krum with seven, Chavez with five and Curtis with four. Chavez and Graf led in digs with five apiece.
The Lady Trappers may have got the win against Rocky, but Rivera said the team’s best effort may have been against Colorado Northwestern.
“It was good to see the girls step up and play with that caliber of a team,” Rivera said. “They [CNCC] had a couple of offensive players that were incredible. The fire our girls brought was great, because they knew when we were playing a quality team, that team was going to put the ball down. Our team didn’t stray away from it. We can swing just as hard and block just as much.”
After a long break, the Lady Trappers are back in action this weekend with a triangular against Central Wyoming and Snow College in Riverton.
“We’ve been on the road for the first half of the season, and that can put a little damper on you,” Rivera said. “But in October, we’re home for a few weekends. Hopefully our crowd comes back and we play well on our home court.”