The performance that earned the Columbia College volleyball team its first 45 points against Williams Baptist College couldn’t be called inspired.
But the performance that earned the Cougars their last 45 points couldn’t be called anything but inspired.
“That was one of our most Jekyll-and-Hyde performances all year,” Cougars coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. “Still, the match only took 48 minutes to complete.”
The Cougars won Game 1 30-20 and trailed in Game 2 15-17, falling behind a team with a 1-13 record in American Midwest Conference play.
But the Cougars closed out Game 2 with a 15-1 run and finished the match with a 30-10 win in Game 3.
The dual nature of the match is something Wrye-Washington and her players said has been a trend all year for the No. 3-ranked Cougars.
“Again, we were mentally not there,” senior setter Tracie Ford said. “That team should never score more than 10 points in a game against us.”
Columbia College will face the winner of the Missouri Baptist University/William Woods University match at 7 p.m. Friday at The Arena of Southwell Complex.
The Cougars started the match with a 6-0 run and did not allow the Eagles to get any closer than three points in the opening game. Sophomore outside hitter Doris Wefwafwa finished off the game for the Cougars, scoring four of the team’s final five points and winning point on an ace.
Despite her play at the end, Wefwafwa downplayed her contribution in the game.
“That type of team I should not have to step up against because everyone should be playing well,” Wefwafwa said. “We slipped but we didn’t fall.”
Wefwafwa started strong in Game 2, scoring the Cougars’ first three points, but the Eagles took the lead with their unique style of play, keeping the lead until the halfway point of the game.
“You can’t look good against a team like that,” Wrye-Washington said. “They play so slowly and so unorthodoxly that your timing is off because you’re preparing for better teams.”
Senior middle blocker Shana Aubrey started the comeback with a pair of authoritative kills and an ace, giving the Cougars their first lead at 18-17. When Aubrey finished serving the Cougars led 22-18, and after a quick sideout, Ford served seven straight points to close out the game.
Senior outside hitter Jacqueline Makokha won game point for the Cougars with a touch block after the Eagles weakly returned Ford’s serve.
“When we were trailing we realized we needed to do whatever we needed to do, and we started doing it,” Aubrey said. “Our mistakes were keeping them in this game.”
The Cougars started the last game on a 12-3 run and had a double-digit lead for the majority of the game. The Cougars were also able to rely on authoritative kills instead of trying to place attacks around the Williams Baptist block.
Wefwafwa looked to win game point for the Cougars with a high-velocity kill after the Eagles were unable to control Makokha’s serve and returned it lazily to a waiting Wefwafwa. As the Cougars walked off the court, the linesman called Wefwafwa for being in the net and the Eagles were given one last chance.
A Makhoka kill on the next point ended that chance and completed the sweep for the Cougars.
Four players finished with double-digit kills, led by Aubrey’s 14, and Ford finished with 49 assists.
“It’s important to have balance,” Ford said. “Otherwise a team will just focus on the one hitter they know the ball is going to.”
Junior outside hitter Renee Zimmerman saw her fist action since Oct. 18 against McKendree College. Zimmerman had three kills in the match after she replaced junior outside hitter Tracy Branson to start Game 2.
“She did what we asked her to do,” Wrye-Washington said. “She played hard.”