COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA -- Blinn College easily handled its opening round opponent at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Championships, which are being played at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Seeded No. 4, the Buccaneers defeated No. 13-seeded Temple College 25-17, 26-24, 25-8 to set up an all-Texas match in the next round against rival San Jacinto College.
"I think it was a combination of nerves and anxieties and getting it all out," said Blinn head coach David Rehr of his teams play at the start of the match. "There's times that you play really well, and there's times that you look like you have never touched a ball. And, you can't discount the break. You take a two-week break (since regionals) getting ready to come here. So, it's good to get that first ball over with. I think (overall) we played really well. Now we have to get ready for our next opponent."
No. 4-seeded Blinn received some solid performances in the match. Freshman outside hitter Cinthya Roberto led all players with 13 kills, while also picking up six digs, one block solo and one block assists. Freshman middle blocker Lakeshia Craft chipped in 12 kills, and also had one solo block and four block assists. Offensively, sophomore setter Kayla Schmidt dished out 34 assists to lead her team to a .260 hitting percentage. She also had four digs and one block assist. Sophomore libero Lori Hunsucker played solid on defense, picking up 14 digs.
It was the performance of Roberto that Rehr singled out in the match. "If we cn get the ball to Roberto, she can put the ball down for us. She's our standout," he said.
No. 13-seeded Temple was led by sophomore right-side hitter Sara Heger, who had 11 kills, while freshman outside hitter Precious Sanders contributed seven more. Sophomore setter Whitney Craigen handed out 24 assists, while sophomore outside hitter Melissa Padget led the defensive charge with 11 digs.
Blinn will next face No. 5-seeded San Jacinto College, while Temple will go up against No. 12-seeded Hutchinson Community College.
For Blinn, the match against San Jacinto is a familiar one between Texas opponents.
"We travel 14 hours for a match that's an hour-and-a-half away from each of us," joked Rehr. "It's a lot of familiarity. It's letting the emotions get aside because these two teams are rivals. This is about makng sure weplay the way we need to play to win."
San Jacinto def. Hutchinson - 3-0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-21)