Posted at 3:10 p.m. Oct. 16, 2015

Volleyball keeps hope high

Shari Johnson

Serving it up:

Student Kiley Ridgway jumps to serve the ball to their opponents.

After a string of losses broke Laramie County Community College’s 13-game winning streak, the volleyball team is looking to get back to its winning ways.

“A winning streak tends to be a love and hate relationship for the coaches,” Coach Austin Albers said.

The Eagles had a winning streak of 13 games, the second longest winning streak at the college; the longest was 14 wins.

“It is a love because it looks good on a resume, and it keeps the team and coaches happy and positive,” said Albers. “It is also a hate because when a team is winning that many games in a row, it minimizes the work that needs to be done to improve weaknesses.” Albers said he felt as if the team was starting to become complacent, which tends to happen when a team is successful all the time. “It’s good, but I’m glad it’s over so we can refocus and get back to work,” he said.

The Golden Eagles started off with a tough schedule and were challenged by high-ranking colleges, but Albers said both he and assistant coach Britney Brown are happy with where the team is at.

“Having the tough schedule and having the tight games developed a mental toughness as a team,” said Albers, who also attributed the schedule to helping the team now that it is in its conference season.

As the season has progressed, the coaches have keyed in on strengths and weaknesses. Some strengths include serving, serve-receiving and offensive consistency.

The Golden Eagles have been good about working together to get the ball back to the other side of the net efficiently and consistently, Albers said, but on the other hand, weaknesses have also been consistency. Albers said this is a weakness for every team whose goal is to play their best every game, but it doesn’t always happen that way. There are moments when being indecisive as well as being fully invested in every game and practice session can be a hindrance.

“Everybody is a key player for us. Everyone plays an important role whether they’re on the court or not,” Albers said. Statistically, some key players are hitters MiKayla Martinez and Preston Lienemann. Lienemann was named to the all-tournament team at the Lincoln Land Invitational and the all-tournament team at the Wyo-Braska Invitational. Martinez is the sophomore offensive leader, who Albers said is consistent and does her job well.

Freshman Kiley Ridgway is ranked first in the conference in hitting percentage. Ridgway is also 25th nationally in hitting percentage, 16th in blocks and 33rd in blocks-per-set. Albers said, “She works hard and doesn’t say much, but goes out and does her job.”
Defensively, Paulina Hileman and Tori Passarelli both do their jobs well, Albers said. Passarelli was also on the all-tournament team at the Wyo-Braska Invitational.

Albers said he had been looking forward to the challenges of facing Western Wyoming Community College, which had been ranked No. 13 in the nation earlier in the season, on Oct. 3; the No. 4 ranked Northwest College Trappers on Oct. 9; and the Sheridan College Generals on Oct. 10, where Albers had previously coached. However, LCCC lost all three matches, 193-246. On Oct. 13, the Golden Eagles beat the Eastern Wyoming College 3-2. Albers, who doesn’t seem to shy away from tough competition, added he was looking forward to a second chance against WWCC, which ended the Golden Eagles’ winning streak, at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 in the LCCC gymnasium. Results were not available at press time.

Two additional key matches on the horizon are on Oct. 23 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. At 1 p.m. the Eagles will play the Western Nebraska Community College Cougars, which are ranked first in the country. Later, at 5 p.m., the Eagles will play Iowa Western Community College Reivers, which are ranked seventh overall.

The Region IX conference tournament is Nov. 4-7. The seed in which the team will play is to be determined. Currently, the Eagles are tied for second in the conference.