Alex Staab – ICC Harbinger
East Peoria, IL – It was opening day all across the NJCAA, and the Illinois Central College Cougars got things going right away with an exhibition volleyball match against the St. Francis Fighting Saints from the NAIA Tuesday evening at Lorene Ramsey Gymnasium.
Things were even to begin things in the opening set, as the Cougars and the Saints battled back and forth, no team showing a clear advantage. In the end, the Saints took the first set by a score of 25-23.
Momentum swung the Cougars’ way to start the second set, and it wasn’t until later in the set that St. Francis had begun to creep back to make it a competitive set. Something was bound to give, as both teams approached and eventually surpassed the 30 point mark of the set. In yet another back and forth set, this time, it was the Cougars who took the set, 32-30.
That win of the second set seemed to reinvigorate a lot of confidence into the Cougars, who were making their first exhibition appearance at Lorene Ramsey Gymnasium since last season. They seemed to be in more of a flow for the remainder of the match, with some minor errors here and there, but nothing that would wind up deciding the result of the match. As they did for a majority of the match, the Saints stayed close, but the momentum and confidence of the Cougars wound up being too much in the third set for St. Francis, and ICC took the set, 25-21.
The Cougars would need to come out on top in one final set before they could call it a day. It had already become a theme in this match in particular, but both the Cougars and the Saints battle back and forth yet again, nobody having a definitive advantage until the end, just as the first set went. In the end, the Cougars took the fourth and final set of the match, 25-23.
After the game, St. Francis Head Coach Cara Currier still had things to correct despite a close match throughout.
“We just need to play together. This is a group that hasn’t played together a lot. We were hesitating. As we play more and more, we’ll learn that trust.”
Coach Currier also took the time to praise the Cougars squad, referring to them as “stiff competition going against you that will make you pay, and work you to see what my kids are made of”.
Cougars Head Coach Sue Sinclair has the team headed in the right direction, and said that things, in part, are already off to a good start.
“I think the fact that we have more flexibility on the roster gives people a sense of confidence and fight for competition.”
Coach Sinclair also believes that things like trying different offensive combinations as well as moving people around to different positions on the defensive side could be worth trying out as the season progresses.
The Cougars host Carl Sandburg College at 7:00 pm on August 23rd for their first regular season match.
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