T-Birds roll in four sets against McPherson College JV to move back above .500

Cloud County sophomore Erica Gilbert and freshman Maria Garcia Bustos combine for a block during Monday's victory over McPherson College JV
Cloud County sophomore Erica Gilbert and freshman Maria Garcia Bustos combine for a block during Monday's victory over McPherson College JV

CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College volleyball team returned home Monday, defeating McPherson College JV in four sets (25-12, 25-16, 24-26 and 25-15) to move back above .500 at 10-9 overall on the season.

Monday's victory was a palate cleanser for the T-Birds (10-9 overall, 1-3 KJCCC) after a grueling week last week where Cloud County went 1-5 against a pair of ranked opponents in No. 2 Cowley and No. 9 Highland, and a four-match tournament out in Sterling, Colorado.

"It definitely feels good to get that win. We only got one win out in Colorado and we played primarily against NJCAA Division I teams. We were close in several matches, but just couldn't get over the hump," said Cloud County head coach, Deb Monzon. "It definitely feels good to be and to produce a solid win."

Cloud County had three players finish in double-figures in kills, led by freshman Dayana Chara with 13.

Sophomore outside hitter Giovanna Fundaro was excellent on both sides of the ball, finishing with 17 digs and 11 kills, and freshman Haven Hamilton continued to thrive in her new position as a right side in Cloud County's recently implemented 6-2 offense with 10 kills and four total blocks.

"Haven had a great night," Monzon said. "She lit it up on the right side and has probably played as well there as anywhere on the floor. She did that out in Colorado a couple games too and it seems like a pretty good fit for her."

The switch allows Cloud County to play big across the front row and utilize its two setters, freshmen Laken Schroeder and sophomore Cammie Miller.

Miller tallied 22 assists and Schroeder finished with 21 assists and 10 digs in the victory.

"We're working on a new system now and it was nice to practice that before our conference match on Wednesday in real game situations," Monzon said. "After that Cowley match, and knowing what it takes to be competitive in this league, I think we needed a taller blocker over on that right side. Moving Cammie and Laken in and out, and keeping three hitters in the front row, is probably how we'll have to push through the rest of the season."

The T-Birds dominated action early on Monday, winning the first two sets with east by scores of 25-12 and 25-16, respectively.

McPherson College JV (4-3 overall) punched back with a 26-24 win in Set Three to avoid the sweep, but Cloud County was able to snuff out the comeback attempt there as it rolled to a 25-15 win in Set Four as Chara powered down seven of her 13 kills in the closing set.

"We had a little bit of a letdown in that third set," Monzon said. "But we were able to come back out that fourth set and really put (the Bulldogs) away."

Cloud County freshman Jessica Williams added eight kills, sophomores Erica Gilbert and Janessa Zenger each chipped in two kills, freshman Maria Garcia Bustos led all players with six blocks, and freshman libero Willow Hunt popped up a team-high 18 digs to round of Cloud County's top performers.

The T-Birds will look to build off Monday's victory when they head out on the road to face another nationally ranked opponent in No. 3 Johnson County (12-1 overall, 3-0 KJCCC East). Start time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

"Johnson County is going to be a tough place to play again after a long trip and against a very good opponent," Monzon said. "Being on the road, playing a ranked team, we're going to put this setup we played (Monday) and see if that works for us. I think the girls are looking forward to it. We had a tough week last week, but we've regrouped and we're ready to go again."