After a dominating start to the 2013 season, the Blinn Buccaneer volleyball team is beginning to reap the benefits.
The Buccaneers jumped 12 spots in the first National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll of the regular season to reach No. 1. Blinn was ranked No. 13 in the preseason poll released in August.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” head coach Erin Mellinger said. “Three weeks ago, they set preseason goals and they accomplished it – it wasn’t to be No. 1, but get in the top 10, then the top five. It wasn’t an easy road.
“I told the girls this morning, ‘We have been the hunters for the past three weeks, but now you become the hunted.’”
With a 13-1 record, the Buccaneers have beaten five top 10 teams in the season’s opening weeks, including three at the College of Southern Idaho Starr Corporation Tournament in Idaho Sept. 6-7. The Bucs defeated Iowa Western Community College (then ranked No. 2), the College of Southern Idaho (No. 3) and Salt Lake Community College (No. 6) at the tournament. They also defeated host Tyler Junior College (No. 9) at the Dana Hatch Invitational on Aug. 24.
Sophomore Bruna Evangelista, a returning All-American, leads the Bucs offense with 169 kills (3.45 per set), followed by Jaeda Allen and Kariana Castanon-Hill, who each have 118 (2.41 per set). Setter Crystal Young has posted a team-high 477 assists, and Alyssa LaMont leads the defense with 187 digs.
Blinn is coming off a 3-1 road win over San Jacinto, the former fourth-ranked team in the nation, Tuesday night in Pasadena.
The Buccaneers are now off until Sept. 20, when they host Coastal Bend College at 6 p.m. in the Blinn P.E. Building. For more information on Blinn volleyball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.
NJCAA Top 20 Poll
1. Blinn College (12-1)
2. Western Nebraska Community College (12-1)
3. Panola College (11-3)
4. Iowa Western Community College (8-1)
5. Western Wyoming Community College (10-2)
6. Hillsborough Community College (7-1)
7. Tyler Junior College (9-1)
8. College of Southern Idaho (8-4)
9. College of Central Florida (6-1)
10. Arizona Western College (5-0)
11. Salt Lake Community College (8-4)
12. Paris Junior College (13-2)
13. Snow College (8-4)
14. San Jacinto College – Central (9-5)
15. Polk State College (4-3)
16. North Idaho College (5-3)
17. Miami Dade College (1-3)
18. New Mexico Military Institute (8-4)
19. Florida State College at Jacksonville (8-1)
20. Northeastern Junior College (7-3)