Chadron’s Jadyn McCartney and her University of Northern Colorado volleyball team have put together a stellar season and the Bears will enter the Big Sky Conference this weekend as the top-seed.
The Bears, 23-7, will enter the conference tournament in Sacramento, California, on a nine game winning streak. UNC will open conference play against Montana. The winner of the conference tournament earns a berth in the NCAA tourney.
McCartney said the team is playing well and the reason is because they focus on themselves more than anything.
“Our season has been very successful. We are currently 17-1 heading into the tournament. the best in UNC history,” the 6-foot-1 outside hitter said. “We really need to just focus on us. When all six of us are gelling on the court, I truly don’t think any other team can beat us. We need to serve tough and pass well which is what we do best.”
McCartney said earning a spot in the tournament would be awesome and something special for this team.
“This team truly deserves it,” she said. “We have worked so hard in the offseason to be where we are right now. We haven’t been to the NCAA since 2014 so it would mean a lot.”
The Bears bring a wealth of experience when they step on the court.
“Experience really does make a difference, especially in the college game,” McCartney said. “It is definitely a lot faster game than high school, so adjusting to that has helped me a lot in terms of blocking and defense.”
McCartney’s junior season has been going well. McCartney has 207 kills with a .221 hitting efficiency. She also has 226 digs and 22 ace serves. Her season highs include 20 kills on Nov. 9 against Idaho State and 24 digs on Sept. 6 against College of Charleston.
That Idaho State contest was special for McCartney.
“Me and a teammate (Kaily Jo Ince) were the second pair in the history of UNC to have more than 20 kills in one match together this season,” McCartney said.
McCartney said she is excelling because she has focused on the fundamentals.
“Experience is a big thing for me. I’ve been able to find the open floor due to just having experience in that position before,” she said. “I have really been focusing on my feet to the ball, and we have been also setting a faster ball to the right side.”
McCartney said the success the program is having is making Division I volleyball fun.
“Bears volleyball has a great culture around the program,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy my teammates and coaches. Our fan base is amazing and the best in the Big Sky. Our attendance rates are by far the best.”
McCartney said it takes a lot of hard work to succeed at the Division I level.
“I think time commitment is a big thing that makes division one so especially difficult,” she said. “However, I love what I do and who I do it with, so it makes that part much easier. The game itself is just faster, like I said before, and there is a lot more to the game of volleyball than I ever knew existed.”
McCartney said it is important for athletes to be good role models.
“Being a role model for children rocks,” she said. “It just makes me happy seeing the positive impact we, as athletes and people, have on young children. A lot of kids watch your every move, so it is important to have positive interactions with everyone on and off the court. I hope I can reach as many kids as possible with my time here at UNC and years beyond that.”
McCartney has some words of advice for high school athletes looking to play at the collegiate level.
“I would just tell them to manage their time effectively because this is a huge part of being successful in college,” she said. “I would also tell them to take care of their bodies in high school and ice more or do recovery procedures because I did not and I have seen the effects of that now. I would also tell them to take risks in choosing a college. College is meant to be fun and a time to meet new people so adventure and explore outside of your town or even state. It’s well worth it.”
Scottsbluff graduate Aly Camacho and her University of St. Mary volleyball team are headed to the NAIA national tournament after earning a first-round sweep over Dakota State College last weekend. The Spires are one of 32 teams to make the field and were placed in the Pool C bracket, which is made up of Indiana Wesleyan, Concordia University (Nebraska), and Montana Tech. Saint Mary is making their first trip to the national tournament. The national tournament begins Dec. 3 in Sioux City, Iowa. In the opening playoff win against Dakota State, Aly Camacho finished with six kills. Playing for Dakota State was former WNCC Cougar Barbara Briceno, who finished with 11 kills. Briceno wrapped up her collegiate career with the loss.
Chris Green and Stacie Meisner, both Gering High School graduates, will be leading their University of Alaska-Anchorage volleyball team into the NCAA Division II West Regional National tournament next weekend. UAA, 22-6, earned the fourth seed in the West Regional that will played in San Bernardino, California. UAA will play No. 5 seed UC San Diego on Dec. 5. The winner of the West regional and the winners of the seven other regionals will qualify for the Elite Eight National quarterfinals in Denver Dec. 12-14. Green coached the WNCC Cougars from 1999-2007, helping the Cougar to a national title in 2007. Meisner played for Green at WNCC and UAA before serving as an assistant coach for several years. This past year, Meisner was the top assistant.
Alliance’s MaKayla Davidson and her Northeast Community College volleyball team fell one win short of playing for ninth place at the NJCAA Division II volleyball tournament. The Hawks lost to Gulf Coast State College in five sets 25-20, 21-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12. Davidson finished the set match with 44 set assists and 13 digs. Northeast finished the season at 22-18.
The University of Nebraska’s Jervay Green, who played at WNCC, scored 16 points Monday, Nov. 25, as the University of Nebraska men’s basketball team outscored Washington State 48-34 in the second half for an 82-71 win. Green scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including going 3 of 5 from the 3-point line. Green has buried 10 treys on the season so far and is averaging 13.4 points a game for the Huskers.
Here is a list of where local high school athletes have signed so far to participate in college. If you know an athlete from the area that is going on to play and they are not included, please forward the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taylor Klein, softball at Otero Junior College
Zoee Smith, volleyball at Wyoming
Kiana Island, softball at Hamline
Avery Mitchell, golf at UNK
Alanna Becker, swimming at UNO
Taylor Philbrick, soccer at UNK
Laura Sherrod, volleyball at Colby Community College
Mattie Johnson, volleyball at South Dakota
Joel Baker, basketball at Concordia
Jordan Hopp, volleyball at Iowa State
Hyleigh Fronstrom, volleyball at WNCC
Mark Rein writes a College Notebook about local athletes that are participating at the college level. If anyone has information on local athletes in college, send the information to email@example.com, 308-631-0459, or via Facebook.