COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA -- Fourth-seeded Blinn College stunned top-seeded Iowa Western Community College 25-20, 25-18, 25-21 and will play for its first National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Championship, which is being played at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Blinn will face t third-seeded University of Arkansas-Ft. Smith tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. for the championship, while Iowa Western will face second-seeded Western Nebraska Community College for third place at 4:30 p.m.
For a very happy Blinn head coach David Rehr, reaching the championship match is a very special achievement.
"I respect my team, I love my team, I think we're good," he said after the match. "But, I'm a realist… a pessimist when it comes down to it. I don't think we're going to do special things because I want to make sure we work harder for the things that we get. So, this is just amazing. We've never done anything like this before, so tomorrow is going to be very special."
The Buccaneers were led by freshman outside hitter Cinthya Roberto, who put away a match high 17 kills, while also getting four aces, four digs and a solo block. Freshman middle blocker Lakeshia Craft added nine kills, one solo block and three block assists, while freshman right-side hitter Elizaveta Senenkova added eight kills and five solo blocks.
Sophomore setter Kayla Schmidt guided Blinn's attack, dishing out 44 assists and leading her team to a .384 team hitting percentage.
After being a defensive squad for so many years, Rehr is pleased to finally have some offensive power now.
"We used to be a team that played defense, because we never had the weapons, we never had the arms," he said. "Now we take our defensive philosophy and bring it to where we haves some arms. Now we can play defense and swing at the same time."
Iowa Western was led by freshman outside hitter Andrea Rojas, who put down 11 kills. Freshman right-side hitter Anna Wagner chipped in eight kills, one ace, one solo block and three block assists. Setting duties were handled by freshman Madison Hardy, who handed out 32 assists in leading her team to a .255 hitting percentage, while freshman libero Stephanie Figueora picked up six digs.
Note: Arkansas-Ft. Smith def. Western Nebraska -3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-19)