Just call her clairvoyant.
Even as the Columbia College volleyball team spent most of the season trying to overcome injuries and illnesses, coach Melinda Wrye-Washington stayed confident her team would put it all together when it mattered most. With the postseason to begin next week, the Cougars are making a prophet of their coach.
Columbia College won 30-14, 30-24, 30-17 against University of Illinois-Springfield at Southwell Arena on Wednesday.
Columbia College improved to 31-6 and 12-0 in American Midwest Conference play. The Prairie Stars dropped to 10-27, 7-7.
The Cougars have won seven in a row, all sweeps, for their second longest winning streak of the season. They won eight straight from Sept. 5-12.
“It’s good timing,” Wrye-Washington said. “It’s good that we’re all coming together. We’ve got depth at each position.”
Getting healthy is one thing but being comfortable on the floor with teammates who have been in and out of the lineup is another, and the Cougars seem to be adjusting well.
All 11 Cougars contributed. Hitters Jacqueline Makokha (18 kills, 12 digs), Jaime Diestelkamp (10 kills) and Doris Wefwafwa (18 digs, nine kills) led Columbia College. Nikolina Rastovac added 35 assists.
“I’m very excited about what’s going on right now,” outside hitter Tracie Ford said. “We’re playing really well as a team, and we’re working really hard to be as good as we are right now.”
The only letdown of the night came in the second game, when the Cougars fell behind 18-13 before Diestelkamp helped ignite a run. She had a powerful spike off a Rastovac set, a block and two points from the serving line to help Columbia College inch closer. A Stars’ hitting violation put the Cougars ahead to stay at 22-21.
“The emotions were high, and I think we were just out having fun, (we) kind of let up a little,” Diestelkamp said.
Serving was an area that the Cougars struggled with, particularly in the first two games. They committed 10 service errors to nine aces.
“You have to be aggressive with your serves, but whenever your ace to error ratio is off by that much, you’ve got issues,” Wrye-Washington said.