TYLER, Texas – One day into the season and the 13th-ranked Blinn College volleyball team has already defeated one nationally-ranked opponent.
The Buccaneers defeated Panola 25-11, 25-13, 25-15 in their season opener here Friday at the Dana Hatch Invitational, then topped eighth-ranked Missouri State University – West Plains 25-13, 25-13, 25-23.
Sophomore middle blocker Bruna Evangelista, who earned All-America honors as a freshman last season, totaled 18 kills and nine blocks on the day while fellow sophomore Crystal Young, a returning all-conference honoree, dished out 70 total assists in the two matches.
The Buccaneers finished with 18.5 team blocks on the day.
“Our blocking is what carried us,” said Blinn (2-0) head coach Erin Mellinger, now in her second season at Blinn. “I was very, very pleased.”
Evangelista led the offense against Panola, posting nine kills and seven blocks while hitting .438 for the match. Freshman outside hitter Rachel Sharp added eight kills and seven digs with a .358 hitting percentage, and Young finished the match with 33 assists.
The Buccaneers jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first set against West Plains. Evangelista posted nine kills and two blocks while hitting .437, and sophomore middle blocker Kariana Castanon-Hill added a team-high eight blocks with six kills. Freshman outside hitter Rebecca Reeve tallied nine kills and four blocks, and freshman libero Alyssa LaMont finished the match with 19 digs.
“We served aggressively and took the other teams out of what they wanted to do, so then we were able to read where the ball was going and get our block there,” Mellinger said.
Tournament play continues with two matches Saturday, as the Buccaneers face 20th-ranked Western Texas at noon and ninth-ranked Tyler at 2 p.m. The Bucs make their home debut Aug. 30-31 when they host the Applebee’s Classic at the Blinn P.E. Building.
For more information on Blinn volleyball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.