Kansas City Kansas Community College has landed the first haymaker in Jayhawk Conference play, dealing No. 3 ranked Johnson County a 3-2 setback on the Lady Cavaliers' home court Wednesday.
The win was the seventh in a row for the unbeaten Lady Blue Devils and was made even more impressive by the fact they had to overcome a 2-1 deficit to win.
"They found a way to win with their backs to the wall," said head coach Mary Bruno, who got her first win ever at JCCC. It was the second win over a team ranked in the Top Five of the NJCAA Division II pre-season poll. The Blue Devils upset No. 5 Des Moines Area in just three sets in the "Battle of the Dells" in Wisconsin Dells last weekend.
The Blue Devils jumped in front of JCCC 26-24 in the first set only to drop the next two 25-19, 25-22. "The second set we didn't play well but came back in the third and led 21-18 only to be outscored by a 7-1 run," said Bruno. Instead of folding, the Blue Devils spurred on by a large group of KCKCC fans responded with the most decisive win of the night 25-16 and then overcame an early 5-2 deficit to win the decisive final match 15-12.
"This group has never had an issue of being discouraged, they just fight back," said Bruno. "After being down 2-1, they played fantastic in the fourth set and then after being down 5-2 in the fifth, went ahead 8-7 and just kept pushing."
The Blue Devils were led offensively by a pair of sophomores, outside hitter Brianna Bonner of Moline, Ill., and middle blocker Alexis Harrell of St. Charles, Mo., the only returning hitter in the starting lineup. "Both had 15 kills and were game changers; they were the difference in the game," said Bruno.
KCKCC also got strong performances from setter Alazia Stanley, a 5-8 freshman from Bonner Springs, and sophomore defensive specialist Kimberly Martinez of Guayama, Puerto Rico. "Alazia Stanley ran the 5-1 offense and played really well," said Bruno. "She must have had close to 45 assists while Martinez was solid defensively with countless saves."
Faced with playing their first 12 opponents on the road, the Blue Devils have yet to host a home game. That will come Wednesday, Sept. 14, against No. 12 ranked Cowley College. Before that, the Blue Devils play at Highland next Wednesday and then compete against several Division I teams in the Pasco Hernando tournament in New Port Richey, Fla., Sept. 9-10.