WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The top-seeded and No. 1 ranked Blinn Buccaneers capped off a perfect 38-0 season with a 3-1 win over No. 3 seed over Western Wyoming Community College 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23 on Saturday at the West Plains Civic Center in West Plains, Mo. to take home the program’s second national title in volleyball. In 2008, the Bucs defeated the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith for the program’s first national championship.
For an elated Blinn head coach David Rehr, who was also inducted into the NJCAA Volleyball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, it all boiled down to a team effort and the leadership from the sophomore class.
“We came out strong in the first two sets then we lost a little control in the third,” Rehr said. “The fourth set wasn’t easy and a little closer than it should have been at the end, but it was just a matter of gutting it out for the win.”
The Buccaneers were led by sophomore outside hitter Shelby Dickson (A&M Consolidated), who had a team high 13 kills, while also getting 10 digs and three blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Preslie Alexander (Ronald Reagan) added 10 kills, six digs and five blocks, while freshman outside hitter Ksenia Sukhareva (Moscow, Russia) added 10 kills, seven digs and three blocks.
Sophomore setter Jackie Gerig (Normal, IL) guided Blinn's attack, dishing out 42 assists and finishing with five kills and four digs, while sophomore defensive specialists Paige Hamilton (Smithson Valley) and Kalli Mikulik (Flatonia) each had 16 digs apiece to lead the Bucs in that category.
“Like all season, it was a total team effort tonight,” Rehr said. “This group of kids all play as a team, not individuals, and it couldn’t have been any better tonight.”
Dickson was named the tournament MVP, and was joined by Gerig and Alexander on the all-tournament team.
The contest marked the final game as a Buccaneer for ten sophomores, including Courtni Bauer (Pottsboro), Tracee Hamacher (Colorado Springs, CO), Vladi Kopanarova (Sofia, Bulgaria), Chelsea Soto (Weimar), Kelsey Schwartz (Brenham), Alexander, Dickson, Gerig, Hamilton and Mikulik.
“This was a special class that completely bought into the program,” Rehr said. “They brought the program back to where it is supposed to be.”
All four tournament games are archived and available to view on your computer at NJCAA TV and psblive.com.