When Columbia College’s Jaime Diestelkamp went up for a kill early in the Cougars’ match against William Woods on Thursday night, things didn’t go quite as expected.
As she flew through the air, she misplayed the ball at first, only to recover at the last moment and spike it for a point.
“I’m not just gonna give up,” said Diestelkamp, a middle hitter. “I’m gonna try to get it over as much as I can.”
Things haven’t always gone according to plan for the Cougars this season, but they continue to find ways to win. That trend continued as the Cougars beat the Owls 30-11, 30-23, 30-7 in an American Midwest Conference game at Southwell Arena.
The Cougars improved to 30-6 and 11-0 in conference. William Woods dropped to 12-20, 5-6.
Diestelkamp, a senior, said this team has had to work harder than any team she has been a part of – and she played on the 2001 team that finished 38-0.
“This team is more special to me because we’ve actually had to work,” she said. “My sophomore year we never lost a game; it was almost like a given. And this year, it takes the dedication of the whole team, and everyone has to work everyday to be as good as we are.”
Diestelkamp had a strong game with eight kills, five aces and four digs. Outside hitter Jacqueline Makokha led the Cougars with 14 kills, and setter Nikolina Rastovac had 35 assists.
Outside hitter Doris Wefwafwa, who missed much of the month with the flu, finished with eight kills.
The Cougars’ only letdown of the night came in Game 2. Nine errors allowed the Owls to stay in the game.
“We’re not completely there teamwise, because in order to be there teamwise, we have to have some good practice days,” coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. “And we still need a few of those.”
With the Cougars holding a 20-17 lead in the second game, Wrye-Washington replaced Wefwafwa with Sandra Gomez-Botero. Gomez-Botero immediately delivered a kill.
“We just wanted to give them a different look and get some other kids some playing time,” Wrye-Washington said.
Gomez-Botero, who has been playing with a sore left wrist she hurt digging out hits, was critical down the stretch. She had four kills.
“I feel really good because I know they need me,” Gomez-Botero said. “It feels good because you work hard, you practice every day for a long time until you play good.”
Wefwafwa and outside hitter Tracie Ford were strong at the service line in Game 3. Ford served eight straight for the Cougars and had two aces. Wefewafwa served 12 straight with three aces.
The Cougars had 17 aces on the night and limited William Woods to two.
A series of injuries and illnesses has forced Wrye-Washington to juggle her lineup this season, but the team is slowly starting to get healthy. The Cougars were without backup setter Katherine Weisenborn, who continues to have problems with her feet. Plantar fasciitis forced her to miss a month and a half earlier this season, and Wrye-Washington doesn’t know when she will be back.