Rustler Volleyball made it to the final day at the 2021 Region IX Tournament, hosted at Casper College, and finishing third just missing out on Nationals.
Central opened the first day with a five-set game against McCook Community College. The team worked through some nerves after missing 19 serves. The Rustlers had 16 blocks this game and Ava Rasmussen had 5 solo blocks, but they walked away defeated 2-3.
“The girls quickly decided they had the power to control the following games outcomes. Knowing that every game could be their last, they faced Eastern Wyoming and ended up beating them in four sets,” said Coach Darshaya Gallard. Makenzie Templeton broke a game record this year with 25 kills. Sophomore Ava Rasmussen had 13 kills and Missy Mortensen had 5 blocks. Paityn Williams came out with three aces for the Rustlers. Freshman Alondra Hernandez was on fire with her defense and had 24 digs.
The Rustlers then went on to face Otero, a team that beat Casper a day before in four sets and CWC beat them in three sets (25-19, 25-18, and 25-13). “Our team focus was on “mini-games” to five points and having the “next ball mentality,” said Coach Gallard. Sofie Langer had 32 assists against Otero with two kills. Coach Gallard stated, “this was a great team victory!”
With the win against Otero, the Rustler then faced LCCC, beating them in three sets holding them to 14 in the last set. Central had made it to the final game against Northeastern Junior College, and the winner would be heading to Nationals. The Rustlers were on fire taking the first set 25-18. Then NJC came back in the second and third set. The Rustlers were down 10-17 and Sage Bearnson came in and got four kills. They lost this set 23-25 with an amazing come back. The last set they fought with everything they had, but ultimately falling 26-28. Alondra Hernandez had 40 digs, 10 digs a set which broke another record! Makenzie Templeton had 21 kills and 15 digs. Sofie Langer had 11.5 assists a set.
Sofie Langer, Makenzie Templeton, Sage Bearnson and Ava Rasmussen received All-Region nominations.
“I have told my girls over and over again, why not us? The key is to overcome the mental battle of self-doubt. This is the farthest CWC has ever made it in the Regional tournament,” Gallard said. “NJC and Western Nebraska normally go to Nationals every year and to break this norm is challenging as we have different resources than them. We were there representing the whole state of Wyoming and we have been focused on going to Nationals all season. This team has paved a way for future teams at CWC. We are now respected when we walk into a gym. Next year Nationals is our path!”
All in all, it is was an exciting time for the CWC Rustler Volleyball Team as they came within two points of going to Nationals!