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AWC, Redlands, travel similar road
To get to the NJCAA District C Volleyball Championship, Arizona Western College had to best not only a defending champion, but a team that has given the Matadors fits in the past.
To get to the NJCAA District C Volleyball Championship, Redlands Community College had to best not only a defending champion, but a team that has given the Cougars fits in the past.
It's a similar story for both teams, but only one of those stories will end with a trip to the national tournament Nov. 15-17 in West Plains, Mo. The teams meet in the district final in El Reno, Okla., tonight.
Redlands (22-9) topped Seminole State College 26-24, 25-16, 27-25 on Saturday in the Region II finals. The Belles had won the last three region titles.
“They are a very scrappy, tough minded, ball control team,” AWC coach Jason Smith said. “It really looks like they have the heart of a winner. They are going to be a tough team to play against. They will fight you all day long. This will be a difficult match and a great test for our team.”
The Matadors (18-8) know a thing or two about scrappiness as well, finally breaking through against Eastern Arizona, 25-19, 28-26, 25-23, to end a three-game losing streak to the Gila Monsters. Amber Graham had a season-high 14 kills and was the Region I Finals MVP.
Both teams are looking for their first return to the national tournament in a long time. The Matadors haven't made the trip since 2003, while the Cougars went in 1999 — just their third year of existence. AWC coach Jason Smith has not won a district final, although both times his Matadors faced No. 1 Salt Lake.
Nina Shields leads Redlands on defense with 369 digs, while Lorien Martinez was second in digs and led in kills. For AWC, Marisha Herbert led the team and kills and Paula Rosa led the team in digs. Herbert was second.
“I have a lot of confidence in our team not only due to how we have played as of late but how much more focus there has been in practice,” Smith said. “When we do all the little things right we are a great team. Our group looks very invested in this process and now and it is a good time to be entering this zone of play.”