CHEYENNE – There are good days hitting, and then there is what Rigan McInerney did Saturday morning.
The freshman outside hitter posted 27 kills on 52 attempts with just seven errors to help Laramie County Community College to a 25-15, 26-24, 19-25, 25-16 victory over Colorado Northwestern Community College.
“Last year, (McInerney) was frustrated with herself for not coming in and playing as confident as she should have,” Golden Eagles coach Keri Coats said. “She is showing that confidence more. There are only a few plays each game where she looks unconfident or doesn’t make the smartest play.
“Now, she is giving herself a way to come up to the net bigger, snap faster and hit a bunch of different shots. The mental side of her game has really developed, and she wants the ball.”
If ever there was a match where McInerney could have called attention to herself, Saturday morning’s win was it. Instead, the Gillette product said her teammates were every bit as responsible for her otherworldly performance as she was.
“Our serve-receive was phenomenal, so our setter didn’t have to run as much,” McInerney said. “We passed a lot better than we did (Friday night), so our setter was able to get balls right on target and perfect.
“We have really tall middles and having them as an option helps us split the block a lot. When our middles are putting balls down, it opens up a lot of things for me.”
LCCC sophomore setter Shelby Veenstra finished with 52 assists.
Coats also pointed to serve-receive and passing as keys to the win. The Eagles had struggled in both areas during Friday night’s season-opening loss to Dodge City Community College, often leaving Veenstra few options to pass and passing from near the 10-foot line.
“We were putting the ball into a circle,” Coats said. “We have worked really hard to get the kids to understand that we need three-option passes. It’s so much easier for Shelby (Veenstra) to set the ball with confidence when she has the ball right in that area and puts up a good tactical ball.”
The Eagles (2-1 overall) scored the first six points of the match before Colorado Northwestern cut that advantage to 12-11. LCCC took control of the opening set by scoring 13 of the next 17 points.
The Spartans led midway through the second set before LCCC tied it 14-14 off a kill from Mikela De Stefano. The Eagles won the very next point to take a 15-14 lead. They never trailed after that, but the set was tied eight more times before LCCC secured a 26-24 win when Colorado Northwestern’s Marissa Coney hit the ball long.
The Spartans trailed just twice early in the third set, and kept the match alive with a 25-19 victory. The final set shaped up to be back-and-forth with three lead changes and five ties in the first 21 points.
It was all LCCC after that. It ran off an 11-0 run for a 21-13 lead and won the set 25-16.
“That was all (Veenstra’s) serve. She is big-time, which is why we always start in that rotation,” Coats said. “I was throwing her different signs during that run, and she was really mixing up where she was serving it. That really kept them off-balance.”
De Stefano finished with 12 kills, while freshman middle Christian Blake added eight kills and five blocks.
LCCC closed the day with a 23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 15-6 win over McCook Community College.
McInerney posted 19 kills and 16 digs. Third-year sophomore Kalme Moncavo added 14 kills and five blocks, while true freshman McKenzie Earl added 15 digs.