The North Idaho College and Community Colleges of Spokane volleyball teams have already secured titles. Now they’re going after grander prizes.
Fifth-ranked NIC, co-champions of the Scenic West Athletic Conference, opens the NJCAA tournament against College of Central Florida at 9 this morning in West Plains, Mo.
CCS, champions of the NWAACC East Division, faces Whatcom at 9 in the opening round of NWAAC tournament in Gresham, Ore.
Seventh-seeded NIC (22-9), making back-to-back trips to nationals for the first time, will try to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish, the best in program history. Three of 10th-seeded Central Florida’s losses were to Miami Dade. The Cardinals knocked off Miami Dade 3-0 at a September tournament.
NIC went 4-3 against national qualifiers College of Southern Idaho (2-1), Miami Dade (1-0), Western Wyoming (0-2) and Barton County (1-0).
Tournament matches are available live online at www.njcaa.org/tv and www.psblive.com.
CCS (32-5) defeated Walla Walla last week to win the NWAACC East for the first time in head coach Jenni Hull’s seven seasons. Hull’s teams have finished second in the East five times and won the NWAACC tournament two years ago.
“It’s nice to go in as the top seed (from the East),” Hull said. “Everybody wants to be playing their best volleyball at this time of the season and I think we’ve been playing really well the last few weeks.”
The Sasquatch won their first 10 matches before losing three at their Inland Northwest Communications tournament. They responded by winning 21 of their last 23, one of those a nonconference setback to NIC.
In the latest NWAACC rankings, tournament host Mt. Hood is No. 1, followed by CCS, Walla Walla and Blue Mountain. The latter three are from the East, which CCS won by two games.
Sophomore outside hitter Brigitte Lowe (Moscow) was East co-MVP with Walla Walla’s Brittany Dominguez.