After fending off Fort Scott, Cowley and Kansas City Kansas junior colleges last week, the Neosho County Community College Panthers volleyball team is now nationally ranked at No. 12.
The new rankings are released on the NJCCC website every Monday. First-year head coach Marisa Compton is proud of her team.
“I think every year at the beginning of the year, it’s hard to tell, especially since I knew we were pretty inexperienced coming in. So I really didn’t know what to fully expect with this group,” Compton said. “I knew that we had some talent but we didn’t have a lot of game experience and I knew that at this level, sometimes game experience can make a huge difference. I feel like this group has done a really good job. They really took advantage of the full fall semester of training. And I think that’s showing right now on the court.”
It certainly showed last week when the Panthers took out No. 11 Fort Scott on Feb. 1, No. 15 Cowley on Feb. 4, and No. 18 KCK on Feb. 6. In this string of victories, freshman Libero Brooklyn Strobel has been a consistent presence defensively, while limiting her serve-receive errors. Freshman middle blocker McKinley Pruitt has been very productive offensively, opening up the middle of the court. Freshman setter Rylee Moseman has been successful in running the offense and blocking, shutting down some KJCCC Players of the Week.
Both Pruitt and Moseman have earned the same recognition for their standout play. Pruitt is the KJCCC Offensive Player of the Week thanks to her 26 kills, 20 digs, nine blocks, and four aces, and Moseman is the KJCCC Setter of the Week because of her 8.6 assists per set, 112 assists, and nine blocks in three wins.
Accolades, though, can only take a team so far. Compton said her team is elated to garner these recognitions, but it’s all about focusing on the next meet: NCCC (4-1) will play Allen Community College on the road Thursday at 6:30 pm.
Still, NCCC’s rise to the top of the nation hasn’t happened since 2016 and 2017. The highest the Panthers were ranked in 2017 was No. 18.
NCCC versus KCK
NCCC increased their win streak to four games on Saturday with a 3-1 (26-24 KCK, 25-16, 25-15, 25-14) win over KCK.
Freshman outside hitter Riley Kallevig had a big day with 13 kills and two assists. Freshman middle blocker Hannah Brisco contributed 12 kills, and freshman outside hitter Jolene Tidwell had nine kills.
The Panthers also faced former NCCC head coach Asya Herron on Saturday. Compton said the situation was both pleasant and painful.
“It’s always bittersweet. I’ve worked with Asya for five years (and) I actually played under Asya at Neosho, so we’ve known each for a long time,” Compton said. “It’s always harder when you face-off. Of course, you want to win, but you always want your colleagues that you’ve worked with to be successful, so we just kind of cheer for each other when we are not playing each other and then we always want to win when we are playing each other.”