By Russell Moore
The Cullman Times
WEST PLAINS, Mo. —
Wallace State’s volleyball team dropped its National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I national tournament-opener Thursday, losing to second-seeded Western Nebraska at the West Plains Civic Center in West Plains, Mo.
The 15th-seeded Lions fell 19-25, 19-25, 11-25 but didn’t make it easy for Western Nebraska. Wallace State (33-7) had multiple slim leads in the opening set and an early cushion in the second before Western Nebraska rallied.
“We played hard, especially during the first and second set, but I was disappointed with our effort and mental approach during the third set. Mental mistakes killed us and you can’t do that at this level, not against teams of this caliber,” Lion coach Randy Daniel said. “We’ve got to come back (Friday) and play like we know we can play. We’ve got play like we want to win.”
Wallace State, making its state-best 13th national appearance and fourth straight, sustained leads of 11-6 and 12-7 in the second set before Western Nebraska made its surge. The Cougars (38-2) charged back, tying things at 13-13 and polishing off the set on a 12-6 run. Western Nebraska didn’t let Wallace State gain any momentum in the third set.
Western Nebraska, the 2010 national champ, knocked off Wallace State in the first round for the second time in three years.
Wallace State’s Erica Baker, a two-time ACCC/Region 22 Player of the Year, finished with eight kills and three blocks in the loss. Kendra Jackson had 10 kills and three blocks, Jessica Coombs finished with 13 digs, Nicole Penny contributed 25 assists and four digs, Kianna Delaney had seven kills and five digs, and Bekah Myers added six kills and two blocks.
The Lions resume action in the double-elimination tournament today at 10 a.m. vs. Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.