Not much went right for the Cougars on Wednesday night at Southwell Arena.
In the end, though, the No. 4 Cougars overcame several miscommunications, errant passes and botched hits to hold off the upstart Missouri Valley Vikings 30-15, 25-30, 30-24, 30-25.
Coach Melinda Wrye-Washington described the match as a “nightmare.”
The poor execution reached a low point in the second game. The Cougars (9-2) committed 11 errors. Missouri Valley (7-5) capitalized, building a 12-7 lead behind the serving of senior Stephanie Hinkle. She continued to serve well, serving six straight points, including an ace, to put the game out of reach.
“We weren’t expecting them to be that good, and they came out and beat us,” middle hitter Jaime Diestelkamp said. “Thats when we decided to wake up and start playing again.”
Columbia College woke up, but just barely. The Cougars bounced back and won the third and fourth games, committing four errors in each win. Jacqueline Makokha finished with 19 kills and 23 digs, while setter Nikolina Rastovac had 69 assists and six service aces. Doris Wefwafwa had 12 kills and 10 digs for the Cougars.
The Vikings kept it close in the third game, tying the score at 18 before the Cougars pulled away. Missouri Valley committed 10 errors in that game.
In the fourth game, Missouri Valley led by two late before a spike by Diestelkamp sparked a 10-3 run that finally beat the Vikings.
Diestelkamp said that getting timely big plays is a characteristic of this year’s Cougars.
“We can kick it up whenever we need to,” she said. “When we need to make big plays, we’ve got people who can make big plays.”
The win extended the Cougars home winning streak to 125 matches, building on the NAIA record. Washington said the Cougars’ struggles at home are cause for concern.
“I think it’s important to protect the home court,” Washington said. “Right now, we’re playing better on the road than we are at home. And I don’t know if we’re distracted, or what it is. Maybe we’re just more prepared when we go (on the road).”
Wefwafwa said: “Any team that comes on this court is not suppose to beat us. I think this is our challenge.”