COLUMBIA — The crowd at the Arena at Southwell Complex cheered loudly as Paula Ferriera stepped forward and waved to the fans in the bleachers surrounding the court during the announcement of the lineups.
While the other Columbia College volleyball players had received the standard double-clap after their names were called and displayed on the CougarVision screen above the court, Ferreira received a warm welcome.
Last week, Ferreira won her third NAIA National Player of the Week award.
When asked about the honor, Ferreira shifted the focus away from herself and onto her teammates. She wanted to emphasize that they earned the award just as much as she did.
"Our job is getting down and people are recognizing that," Ferreira said. "I didn't win that by myself."
As if to prove her point, the Cougars had to rally together Tuesday night to get a 3-1 victory over visiting American Midwest Conference opponent Park University.
The Cougars easily won the first set against the Pirates 25-14, but the second set didn't go as smoothly. After moving ahead by seven early in the set, the Cougars watched as the game slowly slipped away in a 25-22 loss. Service errors and missed assists were the main factors contributing to the loss.
"We beat them bad enough in the first set that we thought 'Oh, we're done,'" Cougars coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said.
Despite the lull, Columbia College came back to take control of the match with a 25-20 win in the third set and a 25-18 win in the fourth.
Middle hitter Trinity Ojo was a large part of the win, with a .407 attack percentage. Ferriera added 46 assists.
Wrye-Washington explained how the team's early morning practices in addition to lifting workouts that began last week were starting to take a toll on the Cougars. In all of her 13 seasons at Columbia, this is the first that she's had to hold early morning practices. She said that the 5 a.m. workouts make it difficult for the players to stay sharp for 7 p.m. games.
Columbia College improved to 17-1 overall and 7-0 in American Midwest Conference play with the victory. The Cougars are set to play William Woods at noon Saturday at the Arena at Southwell Complex.