Rustler VB 2-3 in Las VegasSep 18, 2019 Clair McFarland, Staff Writer
It was part family outing, part national-caliber tournament for the Central Wyoming College volleyball team last weekend, as the Rustlers - and several parents - went to Las Vegas for the Coyote Volleyball Invitational.
CWC head coach Darshaya Gallard said one of the things that made the trip fun was that "we had almost all the parents there... so that was awesome."
The women's families comprised a cheering section that Gallard said was unusually large among teams present for the three-day tournament in deep competition from which the Rustlers emerged with a 2-3 match record.
Win and a loss Thursday
First up Thursday was CWC's challenge of the College of Southern Nevada, which went to four sets, with three victories by CWC.
The 3-1 win over CSN was due, Gallard said, to the successful implementation of new attacks and plays by the Rustlers.
"Jaden Daffer was amazing all day with her passing over a 2.4 and digging over 39 digs for the day," said Gallard of the new freshman defensive specialist.
Acting alternately as outside hitter and right side, freshman Ashley Steffen had seven kills against CSN alone, and her court-position counterpart, freshman Mary Moyle, had 14 kills in that first game.
Daffer, Moyle and sophomore defensive specialist Mati May also had three aces each.
Sophomore setter Aubri Whatcott had 40 assists against CSN.
Following that aggressive start, the women met Arizona Western College, whose lethal offense led to an AWC sweep over CWC.
The Rustlers saw a gradual decline in their own attack accuracy over the course of those three sets, as they scrambled to respond to Arizona's relentless attempts at the net.
Gallard said the experience will only toughen her girls.
"This tournament had the top teams in the nation," she said. "When you play the best, you walk away with a higher level of play."
On Friday CWC played two nationally ranked teams, the College of Southern Idaho and Miami Dade College, losing both matches in straight sets despite comparable set scores.
Against CSI the Rustlers held on throughout the first two sets but gave way in the third.
"For the first two we were right there with them," noted Gallard.
CWC lost by slim margins of 25-22 and 25-21, then fell to fatigue in the last set (25-10).
Miami Dade College also swept the Central women but had to contend with more Rustler latitude to do it.
After a 25-19 loss in the first set, CWC drove Miami into extra points during the second set, ultimately losing 27-25.
The third set was another handful for the Miami college, which defeated CWC 25-22.
At one point in the matchup, Gallard noted, the women of CWC had a six-point lead over Miami Dade, which was a well-recruited team.
"Pretty much their whole team is international," the coach said of their.
On Saturday the CWC athletes left the tournament on a win, battling Salt Lake City Community College to four sets and a 3-1 win for CWC.
The team's accuracy was up from its lagging values of the day before, into realms of .324 and .342 percent attack average which Gallard said was due to coming out "focused and strong."
As a whole, the team had 10 aces. Sage Bearnson had 11 kills, Ava Rasmussen and Mary Moyle each had 10, and Mackie McDonald had nine.
The team showed proactive, cooperative defensive skills on Saturday, Gallard said.
6-foot-3 Carly Connor and 6-1 Abby VanVossen had three blocks each.
Daffer also had 23 digs, Bearnson 19.
After CWC's 25-20 win initially, SLCCC rushed the net in the second set and won it 25-21 win. The Rustlers shrugged it off, stayed focused, and won the final two sets in the four-contest matchup, both at 25-19.
"We started at the Las Vegas Tournament with a win from College of Southern Nevada and finished off the tournament with a win from Salt Lake City Community College," said Gallard. "I'm so proud of all the hard work from the players and staff."
Home at last
The women now prepare for their first home games of the season. CWC hosts Snow College
at 1 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, the women face Northwest College at 9 a.m., and Snow College again at 11 a.m.
All matches are at CWC Rustler Gym, where fans can see the newly remodeled student center, including new a game concession area.