Volleyball grabs third at Region IX Tournament

The Laramie County Community College volleyball team wanted to make some noise at the Region IX tournament in Rock Springs this past weekend, and it did so by finishing in third place.

LCCC entered the tournament as the fourth seed and squared off with Sheridan College to start things off on Wednesday. The Golden Eagles had split the regular season meetings with the Generals. Second-year head coach Austin Albers’ squad caught fire and swept Sheridan College in the first match (26-24, 25-10 & 25-22). Freshman Suzie Rhodes (Bayfield, Colorado) finished with a double-double with 15 assists and 11 digs in the match. Sophomore MiKayla Martinez (Erie, Colorado) fired off 10 kills with five assisted blocks. Freshman Kiley Ridgway (Riverton, Wyoming) was huge in front of the net with 10 assisted blocks.

Thursday, the Golden Eagles encountered the No. 3 team in the land – Northwest College. The Trappers had taken the two meetings in the regular season, but that didn’t scare the Eagles. LCCC forced the Trappers into some difficult sets, but Northwest College overcame the Eagles and won in three straight sets (26-24, 25-19 & 25-14). Freshman Tori Passarelli (Littleton, Colorado) led the group with nine digs and got one of the Eagles’ three serving aces. Rhodes led with 15 assists, while Martinez led with nine kills.

The loss dropped the Golden Eagles to the lower bracket in the double-elimination tournament. The Eagles grabbed a victory over Eastern Wyoming College on Friday afternoon. LCCC had swept the Lancers during the regular season and took the match in three straight sets (25-22, 25-18 & 25-22). The Golden Eagles were solid on the serve receive and only committed four serving errors in the match. Passarelli covered up the gaps once again with 15 digs. Martinez was on the attack with 10 kills to lead the team, and Rhodes finished with 19 assists. The win over the Lancers moved the Golden Eagles on to the final four.

Later that night, the Golden Eagles faced off with the Generals for the fourth time this season. LCCC found a way to take down the Generals for the third time by defeating them in four sets (25-21, 23-25, 25-23, & 25-23). This group of Golden Eagles fought hard and didn’t get down one bit. Passarelli had a career high in digs with 30 in the match. She wasn’t the only one to put a 30 in the box score – Rhodes dished out 30 assists as well. Martinez was the rock at the net with 16 kills. Ridgway had 12 kills, while sophomore Shelby Johnson (Gillette, Wyoming) had 10. The win sent the Golden Eagles into the semifinals on Saturday.

After dropping the first two sets, it looked like the match would be over in three in Western Wyoming’s favor, but the Golden Eagles fought back to win sets three and four. Western wouldn’t go easily, though, and they took the semifinal over LCCC in five games (26-28, 25-18, 20-25, 20-25 & 15-11). Ridgway blocked two shots and had 10 assisted blocks to go along with nine kills. Sophomore Breanne Hankins (Johnstown, Colorado) had 20 digs. Rhodes was big with 33 assists in the match. Martinez fronted the line with 14 kills, while freshman Preston Lienemann (Loveland, Colorado) had 11 kills. The Golden Eagles finished the year 26-15, with the 26 wins being the most since the 2009 season.

Western Wyoming went on to face Northwest in the championship, where Northwest took the title in three sets (28-26, 25-19 & 25-21).