The Dodge City Community College Conqs volleyball team made quick work of forgetting last season's 4-31 effort by placing second at the Lamar (Colo.) Running Lopes kickoff Tournament this weekend. The Seward County Community College Saints won the tournament that saw the Conqs match up with the eventual champions and conference foe three different times in two days.


The Dodge City Community College Conqs volleyball team made quick work of forgetting last season's 4-31 effort by placing second at the Lamar (Colo.) Running Lopes kickoff Tournament this weekend. The Seward County Community College Saints won the tournament that saw the Conqs match up with the eventual champions and conference foe three different times in two days.
    The tournament saw round-robin play on Friday before moving into double elimination format for Saturday's championship bracket. To win a match a team won two sets, as opposed to regular Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference play, when matches are decided by best-three-out-of-five play.
    The action started at 1 p.m. Friday, when the Conqs were matched up against the home team, the Lamar Community College Running Lopes. After getting down 1-7 early in the first set, the Conqs chipped away at the lead until they had won the set by the score of 25-23.
    The Conqs were in rhythm during the second set, winning 25-14.
    They met the Seward Saints for the first time in their second game of round-robin play. The Conqs forced the set to 31 points, but ultimately lost the hotly contested battle 29-31 and the second set 13-25.
    "We had a couple chances to take that first game," Pohlman said. "But when you loose a heart-breaker like that it's hard to get them pumped for that second set. You could tell the emotional toll the first game took on the athletes."
    Next up for the Conqs was Northern Oklahoma College, Enid. After losing the first set 15-25, the Conqs were able to string two winning sets together (27-25, 15-13) and take the match.
    Pohlman said that NOC was able to tool Dodge's blockers during the first set, which initially threw the Conqs off. Tooling blockers refers to hitters being able to hit into an opposing team's block, with the ball glancing either out of bounds or onto the opponent's side of the court, which both result in a point for the hitting team.
    The Conqs, with three matches already played, had one more Friday evening, against Clarendon (Texas) College. Pohlman described the two set loss (22-25, 17-25) as "unbelievable."
    He said that fatigue after the previous three matches definitely played a role in his team's less-than-satisfactory performance.
    "We made some stupid errors," Pohlman said. "But they had some stacked blockers and we just hit into their strength all night."
    The Conqs, despite the loss, went into Saturday's bracket play as the second seed. Seward was seeded first.
    "We used a new approach for the second day," Pohlman said. "I wanted to see where they (the players) were on what we were trying to teach them, so I took a seat on the bench and did less coaching. They played really well without a coach in their ear the whole time."
    In a rematch with Lamar CC, the Conqs were able to rattle off a two-set win this time (25-19, 25-14). The Conqs met Seward again in the semifinals, and the product of the second match was similar to the first.
    "The third set was such a huge heartbreaker for us," Pohlman said. "In my mind we won that match. I know the girls did everything they could to win it."
    After winning the first set 25-23 and losing the second 20-25, the Conqs took a 13-9 lead into the waning moments of the match. But the Saints came back with six straight points to win the match 15-13.
    "When you know all you need is one side out and one point to win, that pressure starts to build," Pohlman said.
    Another match with NOC would decide who met Seward in the finals. Dodge took the match 25-16, 20-25, 15-9, which set up the last of three matches against Seward County.
    "They were just on top of their game," Pohlman said. "It was basically their outsides that beat us. They were able to make adjustments from the sets we won against them and we jut didn't adjust quick enough to what they were doing."
    The Saints took the match and the tournament championship in two sets: 25-12, 25-9.
    "We accomplished a lot of things and played with a lot of heart," Pohlman said. "We played the kind of matches you usually don't play until the end of the season: conference matches, close matches that mean something. This tournament was really a blessing for us."
    The Conqs next match is Wednesday against Barton County Community College in Great Bend. It will be the first conference match of the 2008 season for the Conqs, who finished 0-8 in conference play last season.