After a wild opening weekend of conference play, the Lamar Community College volleyball team sits at 2-1 in what promises to be a tight race for the top spots in Region IX-South.
The Lopes opened with what may be an historic victory for the program. For the first time – according to available records – in LCC volleyball history, the Lopes beat Northeastern Junior College, winning in five tense sets Thursday night.
"It's pretty amazing, if that's the case," LCC head coach Dante Geoffrey said. "Everything long-time Lopes fans and LCC staff have told me, and as far back as we can see in our records, the Lopes have never found a way to beat NJC, at least at home. Until now."
The Lopes wrapped up the three-day homestand with a straight-set (25-19, 25-22, 25-20) win over McCook on Saturday, with a straight-set loss to No. 1-ranked Western Nebraska (23-25, 20-25, 20-25) on Friday.
"Results wise, it was about as good of a start to region play as we could have hoped for," Geoffrey said. "We know what we need to shore up this week as we prepare for two more home games, but we feel pretty good about our progress and potential at this point."
Lamar got out to a quick start in the 25-11, 22-25, 16-25, 25-17, 16-14 win over NJC, but, as the Lopes expected, the well-coached visitors made the match a battle.
"We talked about it between the first and second sets, we knew the rest of the match wouldn't be as easy as the first set was, and it wasn't," Geoffrey said. "We knew it was coming, and they (NJC) still managed to pull away for a while. NJC raised their game and it took us a couple sets to get back up to their level."
The Lopes gave up a 13-10 lead in the fifth set to find themselves tied at 14 in the winner-take-all set. Lamar used the same combination of touches for the final points in the match-clinching win.
NJC's attack on the following play was dug by Freyre, which led to another Hoskie-to-Francisco connection for the deceptive off-speed winner.
Francisco recorded a double-double with 15 kills and 11 digs, and Hoskie earned her double-double with a season-high 30 assists and 11 digs.
Lamar's second Region IX win came in competitive three-set match against McCook.
Hansen led the Lopes with 12 kills on just 19 attempts (.632 hitting efficiency) as the Lamar offense finished with 40 kills and a .326 hitting efficiency in the win.
Hoskie added nine kills on 24 attempts and Graham had eight on just 18 attempts. The Lopes committed just eight hitting errors Saturday.
"Our offense is still searching for its consistency, but we certainly know we have the personnel for a formidable attack every time we hit the court," Geoffrey said.
Hoskie again led with 22 assists while Yordan added an impressive 17. Both setters also contributed defensively, with Hoskie adding eight digs and Yordan chipping in seven.
Freyre led with 10 digs, Bomfim had eight, Graham earned six and Francisco added five.
Francisco had a team-high four blocks while freshman middle Michelle Batista added three. Batista also had one of the best days any Lope has had behind the end line this season, serving up six aces.
While Friday's match against the 2015 national runners-up went the minimum three sets, the Lopes found a way to make each frame competitive. Of Western Nebraska's 13 straight-set victories this season, only Lamar has scored at least 20 points in each set.
Lamar held a 23-22 advantage in the opening set, but couldn't side out to create a set-point opportunity.
"We had our chances, especially in that first set, but they're number one for a reason," Geoffrey said. "They were coming off a surprising loss and I think they were very focused not to let that happen again. But we pushed them hard, and that match isn't anything we're hanging our heads about."
Francisco and Graham had six kills apiece, Hansen added five, Hoskie scored four and Christina Potter added three.
Hoskie also had 15 assists and nine digs, Yordan scored 10 assists and five digs and Bomfim picked up a team-best 14 digs.
The Lopes finish their home schedule this week with Region IX-South matches against Otero (Thursday, 7 p.m.) and Trinidad (Saturday, 1 p.m.).
Saturday is both Lamar's sophomore night and breast cancer awareness night. Check www.facebook.com/lopesvolleyball for updates and more information.