Top-seeded Chandler-Gilbert Community College took care of any opening round nerves Thursday by routing McHenry County Community College, 30-19, 30-15, 20-16, in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II women’s national volleyball championship at Scottsdale Community College.
Lindsey Palmer, an allregion and all-conference player this year, had 11 kills, while teammate Meagan Bluth had 11 kills, four blocks, and served five aces in the win over the Illinois school.
Chandler-Gilbert advances to play Southwestern Illinois at noon today. Southwestern Illinois defeated Central (Nebraska) in a five-set battle, 27-30, 30-19, 30-26, 24-30, 15-8 on its side of the bracket.
“We are going into each match as if this is the national championship, which will make things easier,” said Chandler-Gilbert coach Venese Hiapo. “This was a good game for us to get the jitters out.”
The Coyotes, thanks to a 28-3 record (undefeated in conference play), came into the national tournament ranked No. 1, but Hiapo said the journey will not be complete until Saturday.
“It’s exciting to be the No. 1 seed,” Hiapo said.
“Our conference seemed to have teams of different (playing) styles all year, and I think that has helped us and will help us through this tournament.”
Chandler-Gilbert’s Karen Creech, who led Division II with 475 kills this season, had 10 kills Thursday but did not have to exert her power in a game where her teammates controlled the tempo and kept McHenry at bay for nearly the entire match.
Hiapo managed to get all of her players into the match and all contributed in some form, something she felt could be important down the road.
The Coyotes served up 16 aces, including five late in the game, three shortly after McHenry closed the gap to 16-14.
Hiapo sent her libero player, Tiffany Trujillo, into serve, and she reeled off three aces during a sevenpoint run to seal the victory.