COLUMBIA — Paula Rosa's attacks are ferocious.
They're not all perfect, and neither are her serves, but the Columbia volleyball outside hitter's 10 kills were enough to end a five-game losing streak for the Cougars when combined with the 19 kills and .731 hitting of middle hitter Trinity Ojo and 41 assists of setter Lydie van Deursen.
Columbia beat William Woods in three sets — 25-16, 27-25, 25-21 — handing the Owls their first American Midwest Conference defeat. The Cougars improved to 18-9 overall, 6-1 in the AMC.
Columbia struggled with consistency, racking up 11 service errors to William Woods' two, but Rosa said the team has been working hard on details and were able to pull together to win each set.
"We practice every day, five hours, to do little things right," Rosa said. "And for sure, that made a big difference in tonight's match."
Those details are still coming along for the team.
"We're doing a lot of teaching still," coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. "Not just the fundamental skills of the game, but the psychological part of the game."
Wrye-Washington lost her two primary passers for the season because of injury. She said one of those players, Brooke Simpson, was one of the best she's had at Columbia when it came to proficiency in both passing and hitting. Losing Simpson and teammate Polina Severina and turning former libero van Deursen into a setter meant the coaching staff had a lot of work to do.
Weaknesses that persist in passing were evident in Columbia's 16 hitting errors Wednesday.
"The hitting errors are a direct result of the passing," Wrye-Washington said.
Still, the Cougars managed to stay calm against a fervent William Woods team.
"One thing we talk about a lot is playing at our level," Ojo said. "You know, when you go up against teams, sometimes you can have a tendency to drop if they have a lower level, or if they have higher, you play up, and we just have to remember to play our game every time."
The Cougars face another test at 7 p.m. Friday at home against the 27-3 Park University Pirates.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.