OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The Johnson County Community College volleyball team's quest to capture its second national championship came up short, but the Cavaliers managed to close out the NJCAA D-II Tournament with a third place finish. This is the sixth time in team history they have finished among the top three at nationals. Four of those six have come under the direction of head coach Jennifer Ei.
Johnson County opened the tournament on Thursday, Nov. 15 with a 3-1 win (25-15, 22-26, 25-23, 25-13) over No. 14 seed Oakland Community College, and followed later in the day with a 3-1 win (30-28, 23-25, 25-22, 25-17) over No. 6 seed Lincoln Land. That victory advanced them to the national semifinals against no. 2 seed Parkland College, a team the Cavaliers defeated earlier in the season.
However, Parkland was the better team on Friday evening, sweeping Johnson County in three sets (25-15, 25-16, 25-11).
Johnson County rebounded on Saturday, Nov. 17 with a 3-2 win over No. 5 seed Kirkwood (25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 21-15, 15-10) to earn a third place finish in the tournament. The Cavaliers finished the season with a record of 30-8.
Individually, sophomore middle hitter Anna Hester was selected as an all-tournament performer. She finished the tournament with 51 kills and an attack percentage of .299. Hester finished the season with 463 kills, which ranks as the third-best season in team history. She finished her career with 707 total kills, tying her for fifth all-time.
Sophomore setter Jade Askren, freshman libero Rylie Barnum sophomore hitter Ciarra Valadez had impressive efforts during the tournament. Askren tallied 170 assists in the four matches to bring her season and career totals to 1,337 and 2,122. Both totals rank third on the season and career charts in team history.
Barnum recorded 85 digs in the tournament which raised her season total to 743, also the third-best season in Johnson County history.
Valadez led the Johnson County with a total of 56 kills over the four matches. She led the Cavaliers with 17 kills in in opening win of tournament against Oakland. In the third place win over Kirkwood, Valadez again led the team with 18 kills. That effort is the second-best of her career, just one shy of her personal-best. For the season, Valadez finished second overall with 325 total kills.