by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
For most of the members of the 2016 Kansas City Kansas Community College volleyball team, Wednesday night was a chance to show off their talents to one of the best Lady Blue Devil teams in history with a 3-0 sweep of Allen County.
But for sophomore libero Kimberly Martinez, it was even more special – a chance to be reunited with the teammates that won the consolation bracket and finished ninth in the 2014 NJCAA Division II national tournament.
Eleven members of the 2014 team were on hand to receive commemorative rings for the second highest national tournament finish in history along with a regional championship and all-time best second place finish in the Jayhawk Conference.
In addition to Martinez, who was sidelined last season with an injury, the returners included KCKCC’s first All-Americans, first teamer Blair Russell and second team selection Lily Thornberg; all-conference selections Kailee Dudley, Jasdel Gonazlez and Junelie Irizarry; Lexi Nick, Cecelia Augustine, Lily Cullers, Carlyn Walsh and Janelle Fowler. Only Andrea Aparicio, Allyssa Lutgen and Peyton Pender were unable to attend.
The 2014 season earned head coach Mary Bruno Jayhawk Co-Coach of the Year honors. Record-wise, the Blue Devils finished 32-10 playing arguably one of the nation’s toughest schedules – eight of the 15 teams in the national tournament including three of the four teams in the championship semifinals along with five Division I powers including No. 1 Iowa Western
The 2016 Blue Devils took the early lead in every match in their 25-19, 25-12, 25-17 sweep of Allen County. The win boosted the Blue Devils to 4-1 in Jayhawk Conference play and 15-9 overall heading into another tough weekend tournament – the Central Nebraska Invitational in Columbus Friday and Saturday.