by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC sports information
Kansas City Kansas Community College got an early wakeup call Saturday. Trailing No. 7 Highland 15-7 in the first set, the Blue Devils responded with their biggest comeback in recent seasons for a stunning 3-0 sweep of their long-time arch rivals.
“It’s so easy to roll over when you get that far down but this group of athletes does not know how not to compete,” said a jubilant KCKCC coach Mary Bruno-Ballou. “One of our best performances, for sure. That’s the most we’ve been down this year.” The loss was only the second in nine matches for Highland.
Led by sophomore Michelle Dvorak, the Blue Devils bounced back from the 15-7 deficit with an 18-7 run to close out a 25-22 win and then followed with 25-21 and 25-22 wins.
Dvorak had five of her nine kills in the match in the first set. Bruno-Ballou said the 15-7 deficit was a result of self-inflicted wounds.
“Of Highland’s first 15 points, 12 were the result of our unforced errors. Otherwise, we were playing well,” she said.
Cassidy Crist powered the Blue Devils to their clinching third set win with nine of her 16 kills. “And Kelcey Hund and Nicole Almestica played fantastic defense,” Bruno-Ballou said.
The Blue Devils came into the match off two narrow losses earlier in the week. No. 4 Johnson County had to come from behind for a 3-1 win on Tuesday and Allen County did likewise in eking out a five-set win on Thursday.
Allen County won two sets that went right down to the wire in a match that had 122 kills and 227 digs. The Blue Devils jumped in front 25-21 but Allen held on for a 25-23 second set victory and then broke three late ties for a 26-24 third set win. The Blue Devils evened the match 25-20 only to have the Red Devils win the final set 15-11.
“It was not a pretty loss,” Bruno-Ballou said. “We had 25 hitting errors and 19 service errors, basically two full sets of things we can control.”
Crist had 20 kills, Dvorak 16 and Trinity Holland 12 while Adriana Velez had 54 assists and 22 digs. Hund led with 30 digs while Crist added 20, Almestica 16 and Mia Tomasic 14.
The Highland win boosted the Blue Devils to 8-7 heading into a Jayhawk Conference match at Neosho County Monday at 6:30 p.m. The Blue Devils then return home for a triangular Thursday with KCKCC playing Cowley College at 4 p.m. and Metropolitan at 8 p.m.