Tuesday, November 6, 2012

KCKCC Blue Devils volleyball team earns first national volleyball tournament berth


Coffeyville’s volleyball learned a valuable lesson the hard way Saturday – you don’t want to rile up Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Lady Blue Devils.

Knocked out of hosting the District N regional tournament by a four-set loss at Coffeyville two weeks ago, Coach Mary Bruno’s Blue Devils returned to Coffeyville Saturday to trounce the Lady Ravens in three sets to win the district championship and advance to the Division II National Tournament for the first time in KCKCC history.

“They had something to prove,” said Bruno. “They had a little bit of a chip on their shoulders and came in pretty fired up.”

Sweeping Fort Scott in the opening round of the four-team district 25-17, 25-15, 25-21, the Blue Devils took an hour break and then got sweet revenge for one of their only two losses in the Jayhawk Conference with a quick 25-18, 25-15, 25-22 victory that unleashed a wave of cheers and tears, hugs and embraces.

“I can’t find words to tell you how proud I am of them,” said Bruno, whose Blue Devils will take a 30-6 record into the national tourney. “They knew exactly what they had to do and executed it perfectly. They earned it. It wasn’t handed to them. They worked very hard and all the time and dedication in the gym paid off in spades.”

The Blue Devils will play in the 16-team national tournament at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio, Nov. 15-17.

“We won’t know who we play until they determine the seedings,” said Bruno, whose team will practice there Wednesday.

It’s a good bet that Cowley County, the defending national champion and ranked No. 1 this season with a 35-0 record, will be seeded No. 1. In addition to Cowley, KCKCC has played four other teams in the national – Parkland, Central Nebraska, Kirkwood and Iowa Central.

Assisted by Ali Ward and Dee Bruno, Mary Bruno said the Blue Devils watched game tape in preparing a game plan for the district.

“We looked for holes in their defense and the best way to attack and where we would be most effective. But the biggest thing was our balance. Everyone did their job. We talked before and told them we didn’t need an all-star, we just needed everyone to be good and they were.”

Indeed they were. Lisa Angello had 22 kills and Sarah Mertens 12 kills and 15 digs from the outside positions; Tara Van Beek had 15 kills and seven blocks and Kenya Alexander 13 kills and 6½ blocks from the middle; and right side hitter Chelsea Sheldon-Medina nine kills and four blocks.

Setter Jennie Kinsella had 62 assists, libero Leah Oehm 20 digs and Rachel Replogle two aces and 15 digs. Other team members included Courtney Gunnels, Amber Fraser and Kristin Patton. All are sophomores except Alexander, Replogle and Patton.

“All eight of the sophomores have been with me from day one so they understood how things were run,’” said Bruno, who is in only her second year as head coach. “Before the season, they set goals. No. 1 was to beat Johnson County which they accomplished. No. 2 was to host the regional which they just missed. And No. 3 was to go to the national.”

The 30-6 and second place finish in the Jayhawk Conference is KCKCC’s best finish since 1999, when they tied for the Jayhawk championship, and 2000, when they won KCKCC’s only outright championship.

However, only one team from the Jayhawk gained the national tournament; Barton County was a national power; and the Blue Devils were eliminated in the district.


PHOTO: With a jubilant squad behind her, second year Coach Mary Bruno displays the District championship plaque that includes KCKCC’s first berth in the national volleyball tournament. Team members include (front row, from left) Leah Oehm, Jennie Kinsella, Courtney Grunnels, Rachel Replogle, Sarah Mertens and Kristin Patton; (back row) assistant coach Dee Bruno, manager Cory Roberts, Lisa Angello, Tara Van Beek, Kenya Alexander, Chelsea Sheldon-Medina, Amber Fraser, assistant coach Ali Ward and redshirt freshmen Jade Young and Jessica Thompson. (KCKCC Photo)