Red Hawks are perfect after first day of nationals

Cody Dalton
Sports Editor

The Catawba Valley Community College volleyball program is perfect after the first day of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Div. II national tournament.

The Lady Red Hawks (41-5) swept matches against Northeast Community College (Neb.) and Coffeyville Community College (Kan.) to advance to the winner's bracket semifinals.

"From the beginning, we knew we had the talent to make it this far," said CVCC head volleyball coach Shannon Hudson. "We just had to get the girls to believe in themselves and each other. They have worked so hard this year, and I couldn't be prouder. They had some amazing hustle plays today that showed their heart and how much they love this game and each other. It makes a difference when they fight together for a common goal."

In its opening match of the tournament Thursday, CVCC blew past Northeast 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-18) behind 12 kills from former Bunker Hill standout Megan Fair and 10 kills and four blocks from middle hitter Makayla Bozman.

Facing a stiff challenge in Coffeyville in its second match, the Lady Red Hawks trailed in sets one and three against the Lady Red Ravens, but thunderously rallied back to take both sets and the match, 3-0 (27-25, 25-20, 29-27).

"They refused to give up, and when we controlled the ball and ran our offense, we were fine," said Hudson, who earned her 250th win as CVCC head volleyball coach. "We dug ourselves into a hole that first set with five early missed serves that kept us from getting into a rhythm. Once we settled in and reduced our unforced errors, we were able to run our offense and control the tempo of the match."

Mariah Wallace paced CVCC in its victory against Coffeyville with nine kills, while Ada Thompson made a team-high 22 assists.

The Lady Red Hawks face a familiar foe in Parkland (50-2) in the winner's bracket semifinals Friday at 6:30 p.m. The two teams faced off Oct. 22 in a tournament held at Lincoln Land Community College (Ill.) with Parkland winning the match, 3-0.

Hudson said her team will need to be assertive in order to make it to the championship match.

"We have to play aggressively," she said. "We have to attack the serve and limit their options on offense. On our side of the net, we have to spread out their block and put pressure on every ball."

CVCC is guaranteed no worse than a program-best finish of fourth at the tournament regardless of the results of its remaining matches.