Lopes score great end in Great Bend

Lopes Volleyball huddle

Back-to-back Saturday wins sent the Lamar Community College volleyball team home on a positive note after a grueling Friday slate at the Barton Cougar Classic in Great Bend, Kansas, over the weekend.

The Lopes beat Vernon College (22-25, 25-16, 25-22, 26-24) and Pratt Community College (25-22. 25-21. 25-23) to improve to 5-3 overall.  They fell to the host Cougars (16-25, 25-22, 16-25, 19-25) and No. 7-ranked Indian Hills (10-25, 13-25, 18-25) on Friday.

Freshman outside hitter Anamarija Mikovic helped power the Lamar offense with a total of 48 kills across the two wins. Mikovic, at the time of this writing, is eighth in the nation (NJCAA Division I) with 3.97 kills/set, and is second in total kills with 123.

"Anamarija was really locked in on Saturday, but so was our entire team," LCC head coach Dante Geoffrey said. "It was our best passing day of the season so far and our setters used that to give our attackers a chance to shine."

Freshman outside Lena Srdanov had 22 kills Saturday, including 12 kills and no errors for a .545 hitting percentage against Pratt. She also had 23 digs against Vernon and another 10 versus Pratt.

The setting duo of sophomore Samantha Smith (53 assists) and freshman Emily Longnecker (49 assists) dished out consistent sets for the Lopes' front line to put down.

"Our setters were fantastic Saturday," Geoffrey said. "Good decisions, nothing fancy – just smart, consistent, hittable sets."

Sophomore right side Star Hoskie scored nine kills against Vernon, while sophomore middle Taylor Almaguer and sophomore right side Jordan Graham each had five.

Sophomore middle Christina Potter had three kills against Pratt while Graham had four.

Sophomore libero Monea Ortiz had 15 digs and four aces against Vernon and a team-high 19 digs in the finale versus Pratt.

Freshman defensive specialist Sarah Polanco was once again an impact-player behind the service line. Polanco had two aces against Indian Hills, Vernon and Pratt, while scoring another against Barton.

The Lopes weren't firing on all cylinders Friday, winning just one set while dropping both matches.

"That first day was a tough but necessary part of our season and the growing process for this team," Geoffrey said. "We can't ever be surprised or timid in the face of top competition. Now we've seen it and should avoid that 'deer-in-the-headlights' look next time."

Lamar came out flat against Barton, scoring only seven kills while making 10 errors in a 25-16 first-set loss. The Lopes rebounded to take the second set 25-22 behind 16 kills and a .324 hitting percentage.

The offense remained efficient in the third set (nine kills, only two errors) but the defense lost its tenacity and wasn't able to keep enough balls up to stay competitive as the Cougars closed out the match 25-16 and 25-19.

"That's a good, well-coached Barton team, but we're not happy with how we handled ourselves," Geoffrey said. "Regardless of what the other team is doing, there's certain things we can always control – effort, heart, discipline – and we weren't holding up our end of the bargain.

"Thankfully, we figured out some of those things on Saturday and we returned to Lamar a better volleyball team."

The elite size and length of Indian Hills limited the Lopes to a total of 12 kills and forced Lamar into 12 hitting errors in the Friday evening sweep.

Mikovic led the Lopes with five kills but struggled, like every Lope, with the Warriors' block.

Ortiz and Srdanov picked up five digs a piece and Hoskie scored seven assists.

"We're going to see that kind of competition multiple times this season, so we need to be prepared for that level of volleyball next time," Geoffrey said. "It was really good, especially for our freshmen, to be able to see it and process it."

Lamar travels to Trinidad for four matches at the Southern Colorado Classic Friday and Saturday. The Lopes are slated to take on Texas schools Clarendon College and Cisco College on Friday, followed by Dodge City Community College and Adams State JV on Saturday. Lamar lost to Dodge City in four sets on Aug. 26.