Lady Rustlers drop road pairOct 5, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
After suffering a pair of road defeats last week, the Central Wyoming College Lady Rustlers finally will lay sore eyes on their home gym Thursday, hosting Casper College in a Region IX North conference match.
On Friday, Central traveled to Torrington to take on the Lady Lancers of Eastern Wyoming College and left with a 3-1 (16-25, 25-19, 28-26, 25-11) loss.
Tamara Lukic and Kayla Coles each had four kills, while Naz Sahin had 24 assists and Rylee Burmester 13 digs.
According to Central head coach Darshaya Gallard, her club was unable to maintain a strong start to the match.
"We came out strong and focused, kept our composure throughout the set, and were able to finish, which is something we struggle with as a team," said Gallard. "Afterward, we seemed to lose that focus and got comfortable in the second set. The third set was a fight -- unfortunately, we were unable to come out on top, but we played hard without being completely focused.
The loss in the second frame discouraged the team, Gallard said.
"After that set, we just gave up. At one point, it was 10-3. The third set took a lot out of us, and I believe the girls were hard on themselves. We just weren't able to pick ourselves up after that set."
Despite a continued lack of results in the win column this season, Gallard recognized the fact her squad is a capable one.
"We play well, and it's no question we have talent all around. We fight hard and are a scrappy team. It's not that we aren't good enough to win -- we are," she said. "It's just our mental block we have to get past. There are sets where we're up 12-4 or even 20-17, and we psych ourselves out. We have momentum, but as soon as the other team gets a point, we lose our energy and start to question ourselves and our ability."
Those struggles carried on Saturday in the form of a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-21) loss to Laramie County Community College.
Coles missed the match due to injury, replaced in the starting lineup by fellow sophomore Jensen Paris, who collected four kills. Lukic once again led the way with six.
Sahin had 14 assists, and Brooklenn Thompson added 12 digs in the match.
In Sahin and Rylie Haderlie, Gallard knows she has a dependable duo to form a supply line for the big hitters up front, she said.
"We have great setters in Naz and Riley, and we have great hitters. They both make each other's jobs easier when they do their jobs well. We can't have one without the other, so if Naz and Riley are setting up the offense, then our hitters can make good connections and get us kills," said Gallard. "The girls have gotten a lot of reps with our setters. We can see an improvement from the beginning of the season to now.
"When it comes to getting a kill, it starts with our defense and from there, the connection between our setters and our hitters. I believe we have that and continue to build that connection which allows the 'hitter well' to flow."
Currently, Lukic leads the Lady Rustlers with 121 kills, while Burmester has 114, Coles 108 and Paris 102.
Sahin is the assists leader, with 305, and Burmester has 195 digs in all.
Gallard realizes the importance of a victory at this point in the season and the confidence it would provide her club.
"It's always important to get a win when confidence is low," said Gallard. "As the regular season winds down, it's definitely important to start building positive momentum, so when it's time for regionals we can play at our highest level, which requires us having great confidence in ourselves, each other and our abilities."