Gering’s Olivia Schaub knew that college volleyball was going to be different and after three days of practice for the Western Nebraska Community College volleyball team, Schaub is embracing her new team and excited to get going.
“I knew college volleyball was going to be difficult, especially these first two weeks, but I didn’t quite know how tough practices/conditioning would be,” the 6-foot outside hitter said. “After three days of practice, the team is looking awesome. We have great attackers, setters and defensive specialists.”
The WNCC volleyball team welcomed 15 players to preseason practices Schaub and Arianna Mitchell are two of the 11 newcomers on the team. Both were key members of the Gering volleyball program and are hoping to help the Cougars to the national tournament this season.
“The talent on this team is crazy,” Schaub said. “Everyone is very good and we are all making each other better volleyball players.”
The Cougars, who went 28-9 a year ago and just missed out on a national tournament appearance, return four players back from a year ago. The four returners include 5 foot, 6 inches Adia Sherbeyn of Torrington, Wyoming, 6 foot, 3 inches Leslie Mamai-Lagafuaina of Aiea, Hawaii, 5 foot, 1 inche Ana Costas of Gurabo, Puerto Rico, and 5 foot 6 inches Gabriela Canavati, 5 foot, 6 inches from Laredo, Texas.
With just four players back, the key will lie with the freshmen. Schaub said the comraderie is strong heading into the season.
“We have already bonded so well together in these past couple days,” she said. “I feel like we’ve known each other for a long time, and everyone is getting along well.”
There is plenty of other talent among the newcomers. Mitchell’s Anabelle Gillen is the other local player on the team. Gillen, is a 5 foot, 6 inches setter/defensive specialist while Mitchell is a 5 foot, 11 inches middle hitter.
Besides the three local players, other newcomers include three players battling at setter.
Besides Gillen, also vying for the setter position include 5 foot, 9 inches Andrea Tsvetanova of Sofia, Bulgaria, and 5 foot, 7 inches Olivia Transfiguracion of Kapolei, Hawaii.
The outside hitting spots will also be filled with plenty of talent. Besides returner Canavati, the other outsides include Karen Cordero of Chula Vista, California; Anuhea Koahi of Honolulu, Hawaii; Luisa Beining of Munster, Germany; Alex Hernandez of El Paso, Texas, and Gering’s Schaub.
Besides Mamai-Lagafuaina and Mitchell in the middle, 5-10 La’Treva Kennedy of Bryan, Texas, should bring some spring to the middle position.
The defensive specialists include Sherbeyn, Gillen, and 5-5 Nicole Pena of Killeen, Texas.
Schaub said there is plenty of depth, but loves watching Mamai-Laafuaina on the court.
“Obviously all of the players are very talented, but I love watching Leslie hit and block in the front row,” she said.
WNCC will open the season Aug. 22 when they face Durham College out of Canada at McCook before continuing on to compete in the Reiver Classic in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Aug. 23 and 24 when they face Ellsworth Community College, Iowa Western Community College, Indian Hills Community College and Jefferson College.
The first home match is slated for Sept. 10 when they host Eastern Wyoming College. By the first home game, the team is hoping they are clicking on all cylinders and by the way they are going now, that should be an easy thing to do.
Schaub can’t wait until the season starts Aug. 22.
“I am very excited to start playing in three weeks, because all the hard work we’ve put into preseason will finally be shown,” she said. “I’m hoping we can continue growing as a team so we can win a lot of games.”