No. 7 Blinn Volleyball Sweeps No. 11 Western Nebraska To Open NJCAA Volleyball Championship

No. 7 Blinn Volleyball Sweeps No. 11 Western Nebraska To Open NJCAA Volleyball Championship

WEST PLAINS, Mo. — After sweeping No. 11 Western Nebraska Community College in the first round of the NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship, the No. 7 Blinn College volleyball team fell to No. 1 Miami Dade College in quarterfinals, 3-2.  

The Buccaneers swept Western Nebraska, 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-23) to open the tournament in the West Plains Civic Center Thursday. Then, Blinn fell to Miami Dade in a hard-fought battle, 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 28-30, 25-23, 15-9), on Thursday night. 

With the split, the Buccaneers are now 25-3 overall and will move into the consolation bracket. Next, Blinn will compete against fourth-ranked Utah State University Eastern on Friday, April 16, at 2 p.m.

Blinn 3 – Western Nebraska 0 

Blinn opened the tournament with a sweep over Western Nebraska, 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-23), in the first round. 

“It was a great way to start the tournament and I thought we played hard,” head coach Terry Gamble said. “It was a good win. Western Nebraska is a good team and well-coached.” 

Jayde Shelton led the Buccaneers with 11 kills, Chard’e Vanzandt tallied nine kills, and Loren Scott posted 32 assists and had eight digs. Lixai Perez Velez led the Buccaneers with 12 digs, while Kyndal Coufal and Tatum Smidovec each posted 10. Scott and Ashley Taylor led Blinn with five block assists each, and Essence Clerkley and Shelton combined for seven. 

Blinn opened the match with a 25-17 win and took down Western Nebraska 25-23 in the next two close matches. 

Miami Dade 3 – Blinn 2  

The Buccaneers fell to Miami Dade in a hard-fought match, 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 28-30, 25-23, 15-9). 

“I thought the girls played really hard and the difference in the match was set three when we didn’t finish it off when we had chances,” Gamble said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Miami Dade. They are a really good team.” 

Shelton put up a season-high 25 kills, while Vanzandt put up a season-high 22 kills to lead the offense. Scott tallied a season-high and game-high 61 assists. Perez Velez led the Buccaneers with 22 digs, while Emily Smajstrla had a season-high 17 digs. Clerkley led with six block assists, while Taylor tallied five.  

Blinn gained early momentum with a 25-23 win to lead the match, but Miami Dade evened it with a 25-20 win in the second set. The Buccaneers and Miami Dade battled hard in the third set, but the Sharks managed a 30-28 win to pull ahead in the match. Blinn fought back to even the match 2-2 by winning the fourth set 25-23. However, Miami Dade bounced back in the fifth set with a 15-9 victory. 

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.