GRESHAM, Ore. - Walla Walla Community College's volleyball team advanced to the NWAACC Championship match against Mount Hood Sunday afternoon with a five-set victory over Mount Hood Saturday.
But the Saints turned the tables on the Warriors on Sunday, winning the title with a 25-15, 25-20, 27-25 hard-fought victory before clinching with a 25-19, 25-11 win. The second match was necessary because WWCC was the only undefeated team going into the championship match of the double-elimination format tournament.
"The first three days of the tournament, we were the best team in the NWAACC," WWCC coach Tim Toon said. "All were playing up to full potential and maybe we were even playing above our ability. It was a great three days of watching this WWCC team play out of their mind.
"Unfortunately, reality struck on the final day," he said. "Mount Hood came out firing and the error monster showed up on our side of the net, and we were not able to put it back in a box. Mount Hood is a great team. They are tough to beat on their home floor in front of a huge crowd they had at the match."
During Sunday's two matches, Brittany Dominguez recorded 22 kills and four blocks and was named to the All-Tournament first team.
Kayla Hanus put up 54 assists and 34 digs and also earned All-Tournament first-team honors.
Libby Kern had eight kills and earned All-Tournament second-team honors.
Desiree Nielson nailed 17 kills and three blocks, Taylor Lancaster nine kills, Laekynn Culpepper 20 digs, and Renee Baumann seven kills and 18 digs.
Toon also was named NWAACC Coach of the Year.
"Second place is a great finish for this team," Toon said. "All year, we never lost to a team that was ranked lower than us in the coaches poll (Mount Hood was ranked No. 1 in the last poll of the year, and WWCC was No. 3). If there is such a thing, all of our losses came at the hands of high-quality opponents."
Earlier in the tournament, the Warriors defeated Linn-Benton in four sets and Blue Mountain in three on Friday.
"This is a great accomplishment for this team," Toon. "I am so proud of our five sophomores. Last year, we underachieved as a team. It was inmportant for the sophomores to re-establish high quality volleyball at WWCC. They have certainly met that goal."
Walla Walla defeated Mount Hood 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-13.
"The last two games against Mount Hood were barnburners," Toon said. "We served for match point with the score 24-23, but could not come up with the big play to win. In game five, we were down 10-3, but came storming back to win. The win represents one of the biggest comeback victories ever at the NWAACC tourney."
Dominguez led the Warriors with 22 kills and two blocks, Kern had 18 kills and six blocks, Nielson came up with 15 kills and three blocks, Lancaster had 10 kills, Hanus put up 62 assists and 19 digs, Culpepper had 16 digs, Baumann 14 digs and
Sydney Porter 12 digs.
"We will enjoy this big win for a couple of hours and then start getting ready for tomorrow's match," Toon said. "Hopefully we can once again capture the quality we have seen all weekend and bring a title back to Walla Walla. This is the fourth final in the last eight years for the Warriors, with a 1-2 record with the only title coming in 2005. It is time to even the record at 2-2."
On Friday, WWCC opened play with a 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-13 victory over Linn-Benton.
Dominguez had 20 kills, two aces and two blocks to again lead the Warriors.
Nielson tallied 11 kills and three blocks, Baumann put up eight kills and 15 digs, Kern had eight kills and seven blocks, Hanus came up with 49 assists and 14 digs, and Porter had 13 digs.
Following that victory, WWCC handed Blue Mountain a 25-19, 25-15, 25-18 defeat.
Dominguez put up 15 kills and four blocks in that match, Kern had 12 kills, Lancaster six kills, Hanus 36 assists, seven digs and two blocks, Baumann had 13 digs and Culpepper 12 digs.
"The five sophomores deserve a lot of credit for our hugely successful season," Toon said. "They all had fabulous years. With nine returning freshmen on the roster, the cupboard is far from bare for next year."