COLUMBIA- Columbia College volleyball coach Melinda Wrye-Washington isn't happy simply beating a conference opponent. She wants domination.
“I really wanted to beat them handily,” Wrye-Washington said of Thursday night's conference semifinal. “I really wanted to tune it up tonight and prove to some of these conference schools that think they can play with us that they can’t.”
The Cougars advanced to the championship of the American Midwest Conference tournament with a 25-12, 25-17, 25-14 win over McKendree University on Thursday night at Southwell Complex.
Columbia College, ranked No. 5 in the country in the NAIA, will host Missouri Baptist University at 1 p.m. Saturday. Missouri Baptist advanced after defeating Williams Baptist College later on Thursday night.
Although the Cougars have defeated Missouri Baptist three times this season, the team isn't ready to look past the Spartans.
“Missouri Baptist is going to be a good team,” said Cougars junior Flavia Lino. “We need to focus and work hard. It's going to be a tough game.”
The first of the Cougars’ wins over Missouri Baptist this season came without team kills leader Lino. Lino was suspended for the game for unsportsmanlike conduct against Georgetown College the game before.
“We were able to beat them without Flavia, which says a lot to the rest of our team,” Cougars coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. “Some people have said ‘Oh without her, they’re no good,’ but we beat them just as bad without Flavia playing.”
Lino led the Cougars with 18 kills in 35 attempts Thursday night.
“I think we can be a balanced team, we are a balanced team,” Wrye-Washington said. “We go to Flavia a lot because she can terminate balls. Obviously if that’s easy and no one can stop her, why not?”
The Cougars have tallied 20 aces through two games in the tournament so far, but senior Luana Branco says serving is still something the team needs to perfect going into Saturday.
“They (Missouri Baptist) have very good ball control, so if we serve good, we’ll get them out of their system,” Branco said.
“I’ve told the girls in the locker room time after time, when we play a good team, that serving and passing will make or break you,” she said.
Maria Omondi and Branco had nine kills each Thursday. Tally Mattos had 18 digs.