Bulldogs Earn National Ranking, Sweep Lamar State — Face No. 2 Tyler Next

By Mike Phillips Daily Sun
September 17, 2014

Navarro’s volleyball team cracked the national poll for the first time in 15 years and then celebrated by destroying Lamar State, 25-16, 25-9, 25-18 Wednesday night at Navarro in front of a loud and delighted crowd that included the Navarro band.

The Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 20 in the NJCAA national poll, are dancing to the music this season, and after not winning a game in the conference a year ago, Navarro is off and running with an 18-3 record and an eight-game winning streak.

“I hope the ranking affects nothing,” Navarro volleyball Coach Kasey McBrearty said after the match against Lamar. “I hope we keep swinging and keep winning.”

McBrearty is proud of the way her team has played, and realizes what the ranking means in terms of history.

“It’s the first time Navarro’s been ranked since 1999,” she said. “That’s a long time.”

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Navarro won’t have time to dwell on being ranked. The Bulldogs face No. 2-ranked Tyler at noon on Saturday at Tyler.

Tyler recently knocked off defending national champion and top-ranked Blinn, which was undefeated. Navarro had been the only team to take Blinn to four sets before Tyler handed Blinn its first loss.

The Bulldogs have been taking teams apart of late, and haven’t lost a set in their last three matches and have dropped just three sets during their eight-game wining streak.

It’s been a fun run.

They have so many ways to beat you, or as McBrearty likes to say, “We’ve got some heavy artillery.”

“We don’t count on one person. We have a lot of weapons,” said outside hitter Hailee Shower.

It was more than evident Wednesday. Three hitters had nine kills each as they shared the wealth at the net. Shower, Kelsi Schmidtberger and Daisge Smith all had nine kills on a night when Navarro completely dominated, and Mikala Scales was lethal at the service line, where she had big runs in the all three sets.

Navarro had a 14-13 lead in the opening set when Scales helped ignite an 11-3 run that put the set away 25-16, and after Glorines Rosado ripped off a pair of aces at the service line to give Navarro a 6-3 lead, Scales started 4-0 run that gave Navarro all the momentum it needed in the second set. She lifted the Bulldogs in the third set with a 7-0 run at the service line that help turn a 4-4 tie into an 11-4 Navarro lead.

“I love to serve,” Scales said.

You can bet Lamar hated to see her at the line.

Now after ripping opponents during the streak, Navarro will have to step up its play on Saturday against a Tyler team that is churning with momentum after beating Blinn.

“It will be fun playing them because their skill and intensity will be the same as ours if not better,” Scales said.

Tyler isn’t only ranked but a natural rival for Navarro in the Region XIV conference.

“They’re the best competition we play on our side of the conference,” said Navarro’s Rebecca Schlorff, who had a solid game on the back line Wednesday.

All the Navarro players said they will approach Saturday’s showdown as being another game. They know it will be intense and they know they will have to step up.

“We still have a lot to prove,” McBrearty said. “Tyler is ahead of us in the rankings for a reason. We still have a job to do. Tyler is not expecting us to come in there nice and soft. They’re expecting us to come in there to win.”

The atmosphere at Navarro home games is more then electric. The volleyball fans have turned home games into an event — a loud and raucous party with fans and players on their feet shouting and the band blasting away the same way Navarro hits the net — filling up the gym with enough noise to drive opponents batty.

But the Navarro players say they will be fine on the road.

“We love playing in our gym,” Lexey Wilson said. “But we like playing on the road, too, because it’s just us.”

That’s one of Navarro’s secrets. These players don’t just like each other, they thrive to push one another and count on one another every minute of every match.

“Everything I do, I do for my team,” Scales said. “We all feel that way. Everyone does their job and we trust each other . We don’t play for ourselves but for each other.”

Schmidtberger finished her sentence: “We have really good chemistry with each other,” she said.

Wilson added: “We believe in each other.”

That’s one of the many reasons the Bulldogs are having their best season in years — that faith in the player standing next to you.

“Every time one of our hitters goes up we are all saying, ‘Swing as hard as you can. We’ve got your back,’ ” Scales said.

“There’s no doubt,” Schlorff said. “We depend on each other.”

That’s what these Bulldogs have carried with them through the streak and the season and it’s why they’re making history on the court and in the NJCAA national rankings.

“I think we’re on this run because we have heart,” Wilson said. “We practice hard together and we put in a lot of work — and we do everything together. We do have energy and we bring a different type of energy.”

Next stop, Tyler.

“We have to step up. We have a job to do,” McBrearty said. “I love playing up. I love the energy. We really have to stay focused against Tyler. We have to come in and do our job or else get rocked.”

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