WNCC volleyball team #1 in preseason rankings
     2013-08-15      By The Gering Citizen   
SCOTTSBLUFF The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team enters this season as one of the top teams to beat after the NJCAA released its pre-season polls on Monday.

WNCC, who finished 40-3 and runner-up at nationals a year ago, enters the season as the team to beat after earning the pre-season No. 1 ranking.

Gering’s Morgan Broussard, who returns as one of two setters for the Cougars, said while it is nice to be picked as the favorite, they still have to show it on the court.

“It is really big to be ranked that high,” she said. “Being the No. 1 team to beat is nice because when you walk into a gym teams know who you are. You really want to play for your teammates, your community, and your family. It is keeping that name and keeping the tradition going is great.”

The Cougars are used to being the favorite. WNCC will be vying for their 15th straight regional title and trip to the national tournament. They will also be taking aim at their third national title after winning championships in 2007 and 2010.

Broussard said their season is never easy and they can handle the pressure that being a favorite bestows upon them.

“It is never easy and there will always be that pressure on our shoulders because we are known for being up there [in the rankings] and we always have a target on our back,” she said. “Teams know that we will want to come back after the results of losing in the national championship match last year. “

The Cougars will play three of the top six teams in their first tournament on Aug. 23-24 at the Reiver Classic in Council Bluffs, Iowa. That tournament will take place at the Mid-American Center, where the Cougars won their first national title in 2007.

The Cougars open the season against No. 4 San Jacinto College and then No. 2 Iowa Western Community College before taking on Barton Community College and No. 6 Salt Lake Community College to round out the tournament.

Broussard said that the tough opening weekend will make them stronger for the end of the season.

“We will really to step it up that first week because the season doesn’t start out easy,” she said. “The hardest part of the season is at the beginning and the end because we really have some hard competition at the beginning, which is nice. We really need to work hard together and just go one game at a time.”

Even with how hard the schedule is, the team is up to it. Broussard said the team is looking sharp.

“We have the six returners and then we have some good freshmen coming up,” she said. “The talent is there and it might take some time to get where we want to be, but as of now we are working really well together as a team.”

The Cougars have seen many of the ranked teams last year and will see many of the same national powers once again this season. Three Region IX teams also made the listing. Western Wyoming Community College is ranked 16th, while Casper College is ranked 19th.
Northwest College received honorable mention votes.

The top 10 is loaded with talent to start off the season. Iowa Western, who has a new coach, is ranked second followed by College of Southern Idaho, San Jacinto College, and College of Central Florida.

Rounding out the top 10 sees Salt Lake at number six, followed by Miami Dade College, Missouri State-West Plains, Tyler Junior College, and Temple College.

The community can get a sneak peak at the pre-season No. 1 ranked Cougars this weekend when they have their Blue and Gold scrimmage on Saturday. First, however, they will have a scrimmage against Hastings College on the road on Friday.

“Practices are going good,” Broussard said. “We keep a high intensity up the whole practice, which is good because how you practice is how you will play. We need to play at the highest level we can at practice because that is how we will need to play in matches. I really like this group of girls. They are easy to get along with and play with.”

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