Recap of NIC volleyball game versus CSI at home Oct. 13-14: NIC scores two wins against CSI

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - There's a volleyball adage that says that the first team to reach 25 points (out of a needed 30) wins 90 percent of the time. NIC Volleyball Head Coach Bret Taylor says it's about character, confidence and momentum at that specific juncture. NIC found itself in that precarious situation the weekend of Oct. 13-14 when the Cardinals were down 22-26 in a crucial game three, with the match tied at one game apiece.
Taylor's team showed all the attributes of a No. 2 nationally-ranked team as it fought back from a four-point deficit to defeat the reigning national champions, College of Southern Idaho. NIC scored two big wins Friday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 14 at NIC's Christianson Gymnasium to defeat CSI 2-0.
The Cardinals (28-4 overall, 6-0 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference) won Friday night, 30-24, 28-30, 33-31, 25-30 and 15-8. In that crucial game three, the Cardinals rallied back behind an Amanda Misa kill and a Cintia Alessi ace to take the momentum and get into extended play.
Defensive specialist Lynnea Brown robbed CSI of an almost automatic point, at 32-31, with a dig to keep the point alive and Alessi followed with an exclamation point kill to finish the intense game. In game five, the Cardinals made some adjustments and Alessi's ace to start the game helped keep the lead throughout. Misa's overpowering slam for point eliminated CSI's hope of a comeback and showed to be a preview of what was to come for Saturday's match.
Coach Taylor credited his team with their gritty performance and growing confidence. He noted how well the Cardinals negated the Golden Eagles' most dominant player, Slovakia's Ivana Bramborova, who entered the weekend nationally ranked in aces and kills. Taylor credited his blockers, Misa and Caitlyn Free, and Lauren Stern who added 10 digs, with forcing CSI to change their game plan.
The Cardinals kept the momentum Saturday winning 30-14, 30-23 and 30-27. Free started game one with a kill and Daidre Mendenhall followed with one of her own at 4-4 and the Cardinals kept a comfortable lead for its easiest game of the weekend. CSI (25-12, 6-2) made changes in game two, but NIC got a key joint block from Misa and Stern, at 27-21, to foil any hope of a CSI comeback.
As national champions will do, the stubborn Golden Eagles came back in game 3. There were seven lead changes and 14 ties before NIC's Braun, from Yakima, Wash., registered a big kill at 26-22 for a comfortable cushion. Misa's kill, one of her 12 for the day, finished off the game, match and weekend.
The Cardinals next test will be on the road Oct. 20-21 against Salt Lake Community College, currently 20-13 and ranked No. 12 in the National Junior College Athletic Association national poll.
NIC's next home match is Oct. 26-27 against Snow College (16-14), which also received votes in the most recent poll for the top 20 teams.
Weekend notes: Stern, from Coeur d'Alene, distributed her assists well. She finished with 91 over the weekend with hits given to Misa (28 kills), Alessi (34 kills), Mendenhall (19 kills), and Konae Purcell (17 kills). The Cardinals held Bramborova, ranked third in the nation for her serves, to only three aces. Western Nebraska Community College, currently ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA poll and leading NIC by three votes, won its match over the weekend. They do not have any ranked teams left on their schedule for the rest of the regular season. NIC handed the Cougars their only loss of the season in September. Iowa Community Western College, No. 3 ranked by the NJCAA, also won over the weekend, but faces a stern match with No. 4 Missouri State University this week.

For More Information
NIC Head Volleyball Coach Bret Taylor, (208) 769-3218

Posted: Monday, Oct. 16, 2006

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