The Dodge City Community College Conquistadors volleyball team beat both Trinidad State and Allen County Community College Saturday, ending their first home tournament of the season 3-1 in the tournament.
The Conquistadors had previously fallen on Friday, the tournament’s opening day, to the Butler Grizzlies in five sets before beating the Labette Cardinals 3-1 to end Friday night’s matches.
Here’s a recap of what happened in each of Saturday’s matches.
Saturday versus Trinidad State Junior College
The Conquistadors beat the Trinidad State Trojans in straight sets by scores 25-17, 25-19 and 25-23. It was their third win this season by straight sets. It also gave the Conquistadors double-digit wins for the second straight season. In the two seasons prior to that span, the Conquistadors had won a combined eight matches.
“We were just on today,” Conquistadors head coach Kamri Nehls said after the win. “Our serve-receive was almost perfect this game.”
The team also saw the opponent’s side of the court well.
“We saw all their holes, we placed the ball well, and we just jelled as a team overall that game,” Nehls said.
Freshman middle blocker Rachel Slattery said it was nice to finally beat the Trojans, who had already beaten the Conquistadors twice this season; in five sets back in August, and in straight sets Sept. 8.
“There’s no reason we should have lost to them the first two times, especially the sweep,” Slattery said.
Slattery said she thought the win came down to the team deciding ahead of time to just play better and specifically to try and get a win against Trinidad.
“I think that was a big part of it,” Slattery said. “Just being that it was Trinidad and we lost to them twice.”
Slattery said her favorite part was the way the team played together in the match, not just in any single set, but in the match as a whole.
“We played really well together this time,” Slattery said. “In previous times, not just yesterday but throughout the season, like we’ll play really well in the first set together, and then after that we’ll try to play like more individually. We won’t play as a team. But this whole game, the whole game, we played really well as a team and I really liked that we did that.”
Nehls said she also saw the determination the team specifically took into the match against Trinidad.
“We were definitely determined,” Nehls said. “We knew that we were the better team and we didn’t want to lose to them again, so we were determined to get the job done.”
Overall, Slattery said the team gave up on fewer balls. If a ball was tipped but still in play, other players dove for it more frequently than they had in previous matches this year. Nehls said she saw that too.
“Like Rachel kind of mentioned, there was just more effort overall and I think as a team we appreciated the work that the girls were doing,” Nehls said. “When someone else was working hard to go after balls the whole team decided to put more effort into that.”
After beating the Trojans, the Conquistadors had just one match left in the tournament.
Saturday’s match against the Allen County Community College Red Devils
The Conquistadors completed a season-sweep of the the Red Devils Saturday, defeating them in straight sets for the second time this season, this time by scores of 25-12, 25-18, 25-15.
The win was the fourth victory in straight sets by the Conquistadors this season. It also extended the Conquistador’s winning streak to three matches, the third time the team has put that many wins together this season.
Part of Saturday’s victory over Allen came from familiarity, Nehls said.
“I think we kind of knew what to expect because we’ve seen Allen before and we were just determined today to finish strong and to continue to play hard every single set and get better every single set,” Nehls said. “We just had a lot of momentum and a lot of energy in front of our home crowd. We definitely used our crowd’s intensity to our advantage and they helped us just with the energy in the gym today.”
The win was also the first time the team has won consecutive matches in straight sets this season.
In set one, the Conquistadors fell behind by a point or two most of the first part of the set. The Red Devils never were able to expand their lead to more than three points though. Then, with the score tied 8-8, the Conquistadors took the lead and never looked back, outscoring the Red Devils 17-4 for the rest of the set to win 25-12.
The Conquistadors have struggled all season in second sets of matches, and it initially appeared they might do the same against the Red Devils. Allen jumped to a 3-1 lead, but again were unable to expand it. Set two became back-and-forth, with the teams exchanging leads four times before until Dodge City took the lead back the for the last time, pulling ahead 11-10. Allen tied the set at 11-11, but never retook the lead. The Conquistadors won the set 25-18.
Set two proved the closest set of the match. Despite five total lead-changes in set two, set three was all Dodge City. The Conquistadors took a 1-0 lead. Allen tied the set at 1-1 but never again led.
Sophomore Libero Alex Stecklein said she thinks the team is starting to find itself.
“I think we finally just found our mojo and finally just brought it all together and found each other to play together,” Stecklein said. “That felt good.”
Nehls said she is seeing the team starting to get more comfortable with its rotations and who the go-to people are in certain situations.
Statistically, the team is winning their matches with increasing success. In the first three-match streak, the team lost one set each match. In the second, the team lost two between the three matches.
In this streak, the Conquistadors have won all but one set combined between the three matches.
Dodge City will look to extend its steak to four-straight wins when the team plays Cloud County Community College at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in the Dodge City Community College Student Activity Center.