Success for Trapper volleyball

Posted 11/10/09

Similar to 2008, the Trappers reached Saturday's championship game with relative ease. Northwest swept Western Wyoming, No. 19 Laramie County and No. 12 Casper College by 3-0 counts on successive nights to reach Saturday's championship …

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Success for Trapper volleyball


{gallery}11_10_09/nwcvball{/gallery}Sophomore outside hitter Rebekah DePesa reacts with a shout as Northwest College secured a place in Saturday's Region IX North championship match with a Friday night victory over No. 12 Casper. The Trappers earned their first regional title since 2001 over the weekend and are awaiting the release of the official national tournament bracket to see who they face on Nov. 19 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Tribune photo by Randal HorobikNWC volleyball heading to national tourney The Northwest College Trappers vanquished the demons of last season by defeating nemesis Casper College on back-to-back nights to capture the Region IX North volleyball title in Riverton and secure a place in the national championships. Along the way, the team added a national record for good measure.“This feels so good,” said Trapper sophomore Katie Gregg, who along with Irelis Ilarraza and Paula Barros earned all-conference honors for the Trappers. “We all wanted this pretty bad, especially after they knocked us out last year.”

Similar to 2008, the Trappers reached Saturday's championship game with relative ease. Northwest swept Western Wyoming, No. 19 Laramie County and No. 12 Casper College by 3-0 counts on successive nights to reach Saturday's championship match.

Needing one more win over Casper to claim the regional title, Northwest left the Thunderbirds thunder-struck with a 25-15, 25-17, 25-12 victory that sparked a Trapper celebration on the Central Wyoming College court.

The wins over Casper snapped a four-match losing streak against the T-birds dating back to last year's Region IX North tournament.

“Last year, we studied the other teams so hard when we got here that I think we kind of forgot about our side of the court,” said Northwest College head coach Flavia Siqueira. “We got so caught up in their tendencies and what they did that we lost sight of what we could do. This year, we just focused on going out and playing the kind of volleyball that we are capable of. The team played with a lot of emotion and energy.”

That energy kept the Trappers from being threatened for much of the Region IX North tournament. In their six games against Casper, the Trappers rarely found themselves behind on the scoreboard and never fell more than three points in back of the tournament's top seeded school. Without fail, Northwest came up with the plays needed to open daylight on the scoreboard midway through each of the contested games.

“When their big hitter rotated back, we were able to have people up front who made the plays. They were able to get some points and that gave us a bit of an advantage,” said Siqueira.

Despite the apparently one-sided nature of NWC's victory, the Trappers' coach insists it was anything but easy.

“This was not easy — at all,” Siqueira said. “Casper is a good program and has some very good players. Our girls played with a lot of focus this weekend.”

While Northwest's Friday and Saturday victories over Casper will likely be the talk of the campus for the immediate future, it was the Trappers' first-round contest against Western Wyoming that found a place in history. Northwest College's regional championship run began Wednesday evening with a 25-14, 43-41, 25-16 win over the Mustangs.

No, the score in the second game is not a typo. It is, however, believed to be a national junior college record for the highest score ever recorded in an NJCAA contest, although National Junior College Athletic Association officials were still trying to verify that fact as of Monday morning.

“It was crazy,” said Siqueira. “We ran out of substitutions somewhere around 26 or 27 points, so the six players on the floor had to play the rest of the game for us. I've never seen anything like that.”

The Trappers went on to avenge a regular-season loss to Laramie County 25-23, 25-12, 25-14 in the second round to set up its Friday and Saturday games against Casper.

“This makes it all worthwhile —everything we've done,” Trapper sophomore libero Marisa Shigetomi said, still beaming with emotion more than half an hour after Saturday's final point had been tallied. “This is what we've worked for.”

The regional title is the first since 2001 for the Northwest College volleyball program. The Trappers were back-to-back Region IX champs in 2000 and 2001.

Northwest College will be one of 16 schools heading to the NJCAA national championship volleyball tournament, which takes place Nov. 19-21 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Trappers will carry a 25-8 record into that event.