Cougars enthusiastic about starting over

Thursday, October 9, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:33 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

After losing its first home volleyball game in nearly nine years Saturday, Columbia College didn’t sit around and bemoan its defeat. Instead, the Cougars took drastic action.

They redecorated the locker room.

New goals made

“We put up a bunch of new encouraging quotes,” outside hitter Tracie Ford said. “We made new goals, like 10 new goals, and just put up fun pictures from the tournaments we’ve done. It’s more our stuff now.

“It’s almost like starting the season over right now ... like trying to rebuild everything from now on up.”

The Cougars took a step in the right direction Wednesday night at Southwell Arena, defeating Harris-Stowe 30-7, 30-7, 30-7. The win moved No. 8 Columbia College to 21-5, while the Hornets dropped to 0-12.

The first goal on the new list was not a surprise: win the national championship. The second was to play together as a team, something the Cougars have found to be difficult.

“We don’t back each other up, we don’t help each other out,” coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. “And that’s a part of playing as a team and having the right mentality going into matches.”

Team leaders differ in approach

Columbia College came together against the Hornets. Playing without hitter Doris Wefwafwa, who missed the game with the flu, the Cougars used a big night from hitter Dawn Erickson, who finished with nine kills on 14 attacks and had five digs and five service aces.

“Every game I feel like I need to step it up,” Erickson said. “I know I’m a sophomore, but I feel like out there, a lot of them look to me because I’m a little bit louder.”

Erickson, who can often be heard throughout the arena during games yelling directions and offering encouragement to teammates, said her leadership approach differs from that of Wefwafwa.

“Doris is more of a silent leader,” she said. “She doesn’t say a lot, but her actions really speak for it. I’m a very aggressive person.”

Said Wrye-Washington: “Dawn is a workhorse. She is such as workhorse. She’s been that way since she got here, and I’m really proud of her for her efforts, not just on the court, but off the court as well.”

The Cougars played well all night, never allowing the Hornets to score more than three points in a row. In the third game, the Cougars jumped to a 14-0 lead as setter Nikolina Rastovac served 13 straight. Rastovac, who entered averaging .91 aces, finished with eight on the night. The Hornets had no chance against her jump serve.

Rastovac finished with 38 of the Cougars 42 assists. Outside hitter Jacqueline Makokha had 16 kills, and libero Katie Skibiski had 11 digs.

Cougars enlightened by loss

Wrye-Washington said she hopes to have Wefwafwa, who missed Tuesday’s practice, back for today. She said that while she believes the Cougars are as talented as anyone, she hopes the loss Saturday made the team realize it needs to play together to win.

“I think we’re enlightened now,” she said. “The game has been played in our heads They’re awakened to the fact that they have to bring it together as a team.”

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