by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Just how good is the volleyball in the Jayhawk Conference? Based on Kansas City Kansas Community College’s 3-1 loss to Cloud County in Concordia Wednesday night, it may be at an all-time best.
“We’ve played some great competition this year but Cloud is by far the most athletic team we’ve seen,” KCKCC coach Mary Bruno-Ballou said.
And Cloud is only ranked No. 14 in the latest NJCAA rankings. Five Jayhawk teams are ranked in the top eight in the poll and the Blue Devils with wins over two nationally ranked teams are No. 20.
Defending national champion Coffeyville, KCKCC’s next opponent Monday night in Coffeyville, is No. 2 followed by No. 3 Johnson County, No. 4 Highland, No. 7 Cowley and No. 8 Fort Scott.
Off to a 9-0 start this season, Cloud is powered by four lanky standouts from the nation of Columbia.
“Four power hitters, all 6-foot or taller, with great vertical ability,” Bruno-Ballou said. “We did not play badly. We had some unforced errors down the stretch in critical solutions.”
Capitalizing on an 11-0 run, Cloud took a 25-12 decision in the opening set but the Blue Devils bounced back for a 25-22 second set win only to have the Thunderbirds close out the match with 25-19, 25-22 decisions
“We responded very well in the second set and led 13-11 in the third set only to be outscored 8-1 and fell behind 19-14,” Bruno-Ballou said. “When we go out of rotation like, it becomes a completely different set.”
The Blue Devils also took an early lead in the fourth set but in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the T-Birds rode three big blocks to hold on for the 25-22 win.
KCKCC will take a 6-4 record to Coffeyville Monday at 6:30 p.m. despite not playing a home match. The six victories include wins over No. 4 Kirkwood and No. 17 Illinois Central and a loss to No. 1 Parkland.
“Sophomore Allayah Stillwell and freshman Adriana Velez have been instrumental in our positive energy and team chemistry on and off the court,” Bruno-Ballou said.
The Blue Devils will finally return after 13 contests on the road next Wednesday when they play host to Johnson County at 6:30 p.m. They’ll also entertain Allen County Tuesday, Sept, 17, and then be the host of the 8-team KCKCC Tournament Sept. 20-21.