COLUMBIA — In the three years and nine matches Stephens and Columbia colleges have played each other in volleyball, the Cougars have won every single set, adding another 3-0 win Tuesday night at Silverthorne Arena. But for the players on these teams, each of these matches is important.
“We have to keep an energy. We have to be like, ‘Oh they’re our crosstown rivals, so we have to beat them,’” Cougars senior Nicole Murphy said. “We want to try to beat them by a lot because we want to make a point that, like, we’re both in the same town.”
While the matches haven’t been competitive — Columbia College is ranked third nationally in the NAIA, and Stephens is yet to achieve a winning record in the division — it hasn’t stopped the two teams from looking forward to the two or three matches they play each year.
“Considering they are one of the best teams in the country, it’s always nice to see what a best team is like," Stars coach Shane McAfee said. "It’s hard for us to match up with those guys, but we play hard, and it wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed playing them as a coach because I like to watch them play because they’re a good team.”
In the 25-10, 25-12, 25-18 Cougars victory Tuesday, the Stars reached their goal of double-digit scoring in each set, a first for them in the matchup. The Cougars added another win to their regular-season American Midwest Conference win streak, now at 134.
Their goals might be different, but hope for a tighter rivalry shines through.
“I think it’s neat to have another school, not only that’s NAIA, that’s in your division, but that’s in your conference, in your same city,” Cougars junior Aleah Hayes said. “I hope that a rivalry will come of it soon, just because it’s nice to have that other common school and fight for that standing in your city.”
The teams are scheduled to play their last regular-season match of the year on Nov. 5 at the Arena of Southwell Complex.