Cougar volleyball ranked No. 2
     2016-08-19      By Media Report    editor@geringcitizen.com
The Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team will enter the season as the No. 2 team in the nation after the NJCAA released its pre-season polls this past week.

The ranking is accurate to where the Cougars finished in the nation last season as the runner-up at the national tournament, falling to the College of Southern Idaho.

Lara Picht, one of the five sophomores back from that runner-up team, said it is a good spot according to what they did a year ago, but they can’t look at that because there is plenty of matches to play during the season.

“Not really surprised (with the No. 2 ranking) because we were runners-up from last season and I expected a high ranking. I am happy with it,” Picht said.

WNCC head coach Binny Canales, who is in his third year guiding the Cougars, said they have to take the ranking with caution. “It [the ranking] can be a blessing or it can injure you. We have to take everything very humbly,” he said. “There are a lot of great teams out there with good players and they all want to be at the highest peak in the polls. Right now we have a lot of work to do to represent Western Nebraska Community College and Scottsbluff, Nebraska.”

With the high ranking comes a little more pressure, but for the Cougar team, that is nothing new, who has been a consistent member of the top 20 ranking for the past 10-plus years.

“We are in this position and we have to defend it,” Picht said. “We are Western Nebraska and we have to play this way and it puts pressure on us but I think we can handle it. The ranking will be pretty motivating for practice and games to make us play well, especially when we play CSI and Iowa Western. It is a big motivator to play hard against them and try to win the games.”

The No. 2 ranking gives the team an indication of what to do as they prepare for the season. Southern Idaho is the top-ranked team followed by WNCC, Hillsborough CC in Florida, Iowa Western Community College, and Northwest College out of Powell, Wyoming, rounding out the top five.

Polk State out of Florida leads the next five teams, followed by Blinn College from Texas, Indian Hills out of Iowa, Tyler Junior College from Texas, and Central Florida at No. 10.

The other notables on WNCC’s schedule are Salt Lake Community College at No. 12, Jefferson College out of Missouri at No. 18, and Casper College receiving honorable mention votes.

The Cougars will have one scrimmage Wednesday night against Eastern Wyoming College before opening the season on Monday in a quad in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where they will play Western Wyoming Community College at 3 p.m. and Laramie County Community College at 7 p.m.

Picht said she is anxious to play a contest just to see where this team is with five sophomores and 10 freshmen making up the roster.

“I am really excited for tomorrow,” she said. “Practice has been hard the last week and I think we have worked hard and we are getting better every practice. I am excited for tomorrow [Wednesday] to finally play in a game to see how it goes.”

Picht said this team has progressed nicely since starting practice August 2.

“I feel like we are way closer now,” Picht said. “Everything is working better in practice now. In the beginning we had problems with communication on the court and it is getting better and better.”

Media release

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