The Dodge City Community Conquistadors volleyball team opened the new Student Activity Center with a win, defeating the Pratt Community College Beavers in straight sets 25-18, 25-21, 25-15 Monday night in the team's home-opener.
The victory also gave the Conqs three straight wins. Conquistadors freshman setter Gabriella Valdez said the win felt good both because of the other players and playing for coach Kamri Nehls.
“Especially being a freshman here it’s just overwhelming,” Valdez said. “It’s just an awesome feeling to be able to (win) with these girls.”
In addition to it being the first match in the center, it was also the first home win Nehls as an actual head coach. Nehls served last season as the team’s interim head coach, leading them to a 21-16 record, their best since 2010.
“It felt good to not only break in our first home game of this season but actually get our first win in this building, and do it in three and sweep our first conference team,” Nehls said. “It was a good start for us.”
In the first set, the Conqs jumped out to a 4-0 lead. The Beavers narrowed the lead to 5-3 but never got any closer, trailing as much as by eight points before the Conquistadors won the set 25-18.
In set two, the Conquistadors and Beavers went back-and-forth in a set that was tied at seven different points. The Beavers built their biggest lead of the match in set two, going up 12-8 before a ferocious rally by the Conquistadors to tie it at 13-13, then go up 14-13. From there, the Conqs never looked back in set two, winning 25-21 before winning set three 25-15.
It was a pattern Nehls said the team is working on.
“That’s kind of what we do lately,” Nehls said. “We win the first set and we kind of take it easy a little bit the second set. But we’re working on that and we have started to fight back better and quicker and earlier on.”
The team’s first 12 matches of the season have been either on the road or at neutral sites. Dodge City next heads to Liberal, Kansas Wednesday to play Seward County Community College before playing the next four matches at home.
“We’re definitely going to build on this momentum,” Nehls said. “We have a tough match on Wednesday at Seward, but it’ll be nice to carry this over into our home tournament this weekend. We’ll have a lot of support from this crowd. This crowd was awesome tonight.”