CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College volleyball team wrapped up the home portion of its schedule in fine fashion on Wednesday, sending its six sophomores out on a high note with a 25-13, 28-26 and 25-18 sweep of Allen County Community College.
"It was nice to be able to get in all the sophomores, let them play a lot, and get a win their last time on their home floor," said Cloud County head coach, Deb Monzon. "It's exciting to finish strong here at home."
Sophomore outside hitters Giovanna Fundaro and Janessa Zenger shined in their final match inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium as Fundaro went for 14 kills and five digs, while Zenger powered down 10 kills and added four digs against the Red Devils (6-20 overall, 0-8 KJCCC East).
Fundaro will be one of many T-Birds (17-16 overall, 3-7 KJCCC East) on this year's team to leave their mark in the school record books. According to available records, Fundaro will graduate as Cloud County's leader in service aces since the modern scoring system was implemented in 2008. Fundaro currently has 62 aces with two matches left to play; topping the previous record of 61 set in 2013-14 by Kaylee Bontrager.
Sophomore defensive specialist Britt Michaelis, who led all players with 18 digs Wednesday night, will graduate as Cloud County's all-time digs leader. The native of Paxico, Kansas already owns the single-season record with 450 digs last season. Michaelis currently has 759 career digs. The previous record was 664 by Emily Brown from 2013-14.
Cloud County also received strong performances from sophomores Erica Gilbert and Cammie Miller — sophomore setter Kamryn Stark was not in action as she missed the entire 2018 season due to a knee injury — as Gilbert finished with seven kills and Miller led the T-Birds with 30 assists.
"The thing I've appreciated the most about this group is that they all got along. They've been awesome to work with and never complained and they are all fighters," Monzon said. "I'm going to miss them because they are a good bunch of kids. They were always positive, whether they were on or off the court, which meant a lot for me returning to the program and not having coached them last year. They accepted the challenge and accepted me as their coach."
While the sophomores shined, the T-Birds also saw nice performances on Wednesday from a few of the freshmen that have helped drive the turnaround this season.
Freshman outside hitter Jessica Williams and freshman right side Haven Hamilton each finished with five kills in the win, while freshman middle blocker Maria Garcia Bustos added four kills and a team-high three total blocks.
A postseason berth won't be in the cards for the T-Birds this winter. But as they prepare for their final two regular season matches against McPherson College JV and Ottawa University JV next Monday and Wednesday, respectively, Monzon said she is encouraged by the progress made in 2018.
"We've seen a lot of improvement from where the program has been. We're making strikes," Monzon said. "I feel like recruiting is going pretty well that we'll be able to bring in some kids to fill these spots and take it to the next level. I want to see us where we're a top 2-3 team in the conference. It's going to take some work and won't happen overnight, but I think we have a good group of freshmen to build on. It's something to look forward to."