Oct 19, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterCentral Wyoming College evened its conference mark at 5-5 with a volleyball sweep of Sheridan College and Northwest College this weekend. CWC moved to 14-15 overall with the win and is deep in the mix for third, fourth or fifth place, depending on how other conference schools play out this weekend.
On Friday, the Rustlers survived in a donnybrook against Sheridan College in five games with the Generals taking the bookends of the 25-point games 25-23 and 25-18. CWC squeaked out game two 31-29 and rolled in game three 25-14. In the decisive fifth game, the Rustlers came away with the win 15-12.
"This weekend was big for us," Rustler head coach Tiffany Stauffenberg said.
On Saturday, it looked like a repeat of the tight contest Friday. The Northwest College Trappers rely on a strong front row of international players led by 6-foot sophomore Ana Jakovljevic of Valvejo, Serbia.
Jakovljevic is an explosive player who hammers the ball at the net and has a high, strong serve to compliment her play.
"We talked about her all week," Stauffenberg said. "We got her frustrated tonight."
CWC's strategy centered on the double-block, and it paid dividends throughout the match.
Leading 14-7 in the opening game, the Rustlers were on the verge of putting the game away early, but Northwest closed to 17-14 largely on the play of Jakovljevic.
CWC's front line of Samantha Unruh and Asya Oguz played well on the net, setting a wall via the double-block that picked up points and altered the Trappers' offensive strategy. The opening game was never tied, but Northwest closed to 23-21, prompting a Stauffenberg time out.
Kiara Skinner came out of the break and hammered through one of the strongest kills of the night to set game point. Thermopolis freshman Jordan Lebya tallied the game winner of a fake set that put the ball between sprawling Northwest defenders for the first win.
Four ties highlighted game two and the Rustlers continued to use the block and double-block effectively in spite of not serving well. Rather than kill off the set, the Rustlers placed the ball with soft tips over the attempted block.
"We didn't serve well today," Stauffenberg said. "Fortunately we were able to make up for it in other areas."
Tied at 16, Tavia Young served six-straight to put the Rustlers in position for the win. Trailing 22-16 after the flurry, Northwest was able to close to three, but a kill by Skinner and a winning point off a double-block by Unruh and Marissa Cutts moved the match to 2-0 in CWC's favor.
Game three was a dogfight from the opening serve with eight ties and nine lead changes. The final tie came at 17 and Jakovljevic came to life punishing the CWC back row with whistling serves and dominating play at the net for the first time, driving through blocks to pull Northwest to a 25-19 win.
CWC trailed early in the final game, but back-to-back points off double-blocks by Unruh and Maddie Kelley tied the game at seven.
Six more ties kept the game close. Northwest's serving came to life with Elisa Brooks tallying an ace and placing the ball well. Jakovljevic added a couple of hammering kills, and CWC responded with well-placed tips by Cutts that kept CWC in the game.
The final tie came at 15 and CWC took over from there with Northwest coming a bit unraveled on double-hit calls. Young and Unruh tallied another double block to take a 20-17 lead, and Skinner tallied a kill to move the score to 23-19.
Northwest's coach Shaun Pohlman jumped to his feet and challenged the net official, claiming double-hits by CWC, but all he received for his effort was a yellow card.
Fittingly, the game ended 25-20 on a double-block by Unruh and Cutts.
"We played smartly," Stauffenberg said. "Defensively, you can win games, and we proved it today."
Oguz paced the Rustlers with 14 kills, Cutts tallied nine and Skinner eight. Unruh had five blocks with Cutts and Skinner blocking four each.
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