Fresh off a sweep of the "Battle of the Dells" Tournament in Wisconsin Dells over the weekend, Kansas City Kansas Community College opens Jayhawk Conference volleyball action Wednesday against one of the top ranked teams in the nation.
The unbeaten Lady Blue Devils (6-0) will start conference play at 5:30 p.m. at Johnson County, the No. 3 ranked team in the NJCAA Division II pre-season poll and the favorite to win the Jayhawk title.
"We're going to be thrown right into the fire against the defending conference champions," said head coach Mary Bruno. JCCC's opening schedule includes a win over Central of Columbus, Neb., and a five-set loss to Lincoln Land, the nation's No. 2 ranked team and last year's national runnerup.
KCKCC's sweep of the "Battle of the Dells" started Saturday with a three-set upset of No. 5 Des Moines Area 25-19, 26-24, 25-18 and was followed immediately by a three-set win over DuPage, Ill., 26-24, 25-16, 25-15.
On Sunday, the Blue Devils needed four sets to get past Monroe College, a Division I team out of New York, winning 25-21, 18-25, 25-23, 25-17, and then came right back with a five-set win over Iowa Central. The Blue Devils took the decisive fifth set 19-17 after splitting the first four, 22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 23-25.
"That was a good match," said Bruno. "Iowa Central is very solid and we had to play back-to-back matches both days so we were exhausted. It was tough competition all weekend which is just what we needed going into a very tough conference schedule."
The Blue Devils were led by 5-11 sophomore middle blocker Alexis Harrell of St. Charles, Mo., who in 21 sets had 67 kills and only six errors. "We also got great performances from right side sophomore Brianna Bonner, sophomore libero Kimberly Martinez and freshman outside hitter Katie Heeter," said Bruno.
It was the second tourney sweep for KCKCC, which defeated Neosho County and Wentworth Military earlier in the Neosho Tri-Match in Chanute. The Blue Devils needed only three sets in both matches.
At 6-0, the Blue Devils will play six more foes on the road before the home opener against No. 12 Cowley County on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m. In addition to playing at JCCC Wednesday, KCKCC goes to Highland Sept. 7 and then competes in the Pasco Hernando tournament at New Port Richey, Fla., Sept. 9-10.