CASPER, WYO. – Wallace State volleyball had its season come to an end Friday, losing to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I consolation round at the Casper Events Center.
The Lions, seeded 12th, close the season with a 39-8 record after falling to the 13th-seeded Blue Dragons, 14-25, 28-30, 22-25.
Wallace State sophomore CeCe Hall had 10 kills and a pair of blocks, Kheala Roberts had seven kills and freshman Cierra Davis contributed seven digs and six kills for the Lions, who made their seventh straight national tournament appearance and state-best 15th overall. Wallace State advanced to the tournament after winning its seventh consecutive Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) championship.
Hutchinson, who lost to Wallace State in the regular season, swept the match, which featured 16 ties and seven lead changes throughout.
"Our Achilles' heel all season has been ball control and discipline on defense when we play a good team. It sounds like a broken record, but it got us again," said Wallace State coach Randy Daniel.
Wallace State nearly pulled out the second set after trailing 17-8 and 19-11. The Lions charged back to tie things up at 24-all and led three times before the set was complete. However, Hutchinson was the first to score consecutive points down the stretch, winning 30-28.
Wallace State trailed by no more than five points in the final set and got within a point at 24-23, but Hutchinson prevented the Lions from rallying with a 25-23 victory. There were seven ties and four lead changes in the third set.
Freshman Kelsea Bivins finished with eight kills for the Lions, Tara Miller had a team-high 25 assists, August Newberry collected 12 digs and Sidney Cooper had 11 digs.
Jai Chapman led Hutchinson with 14 kills and eight digs and Petra Silic, a 6-foot-4 Croatian, had 10 kills. McKenzie Steele added 15 digs and four aces.
It was the final Wallace State match for six sophomores: Hall, Roberts, Cooper, Alexandra Gamble, Savanna Tidwell and Stephanie Eckerd.
"They are great people on and off the court. They've meant a lot to the program academically and on the court," said Daniel, the 2015 ACCC/District 0 Coach of the Year. "This is a great group, and I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of good ones. They've added to the program's history, and that's what you ask for from a group of sophomores."
The sophomores were a part of 74 victories over two seasons and a pair of conference championships.
Hall, an Alabama commitment, was named the ACCC Player of the Year after leading the conference in hitting percentage, kills, kills per set, blocks and blocks per set. She was also the conference tournament MVP, a three-time ACCC Player of the Week and the NJCAA Player of the Week in September.
Roberts and Gamble were also first-team ACCC All-Region selections and all-tournament selections for Wallace State. Bivins, Davis and Newberry were each named to the 2nd-team ACCC All-Region team.
Other members of Wallace State's 2015 team not previously mentioned are Jamie Pittman, Beth Maples, MaKenzie Bearden, Latresia Williams and Mallory Patterson.
Daniel now has 332 career victories after nine seasons with the Lions.