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Johnson County advances to national semifinals

Johnson County advances to national semifinals

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The Johnson County Community College volleyball team advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Tournament yesterday with a pair of 3-sets-to-1 victories on the opening day in Charleston, W. Va. This marks the sixth time in the team history that Johnson County has reached the semifinal round. They won a national title in 2005, finished runner-up in 2007, 2008 and 2010, and came in third place in 2013. 

The Lady Cavaliers, the third seed in the 16-team field, opened play against 14-seed Oakland Community College. Johnson County won the first set easily 25-15, and was on the verge of going up 2-0 when they led 24-19 in the second set. However, the Raiders surged back to even the match at 1-1 with a 26-24.  Johnson County took a close third set 25-23, then closed out the match with a dominant 25-13 win in the fourth set. 

Johnson County followed with another 3-1 win in the quarterfinals, defeating No. 6 seed Lincoln Land for the second time this season. While the Cavaliers won three of the four sets, this match was extremely close. JCCC opened with hard-fought 30-28 win. The Loggers evened the match at 1-1 with a 25-23 win. Johnson County took the lead again with another close victory, 25-22, then closed out the match with a 25-17 win in the fourth set. 

In the opening win, sophomore hitters Ciarra Valdez and Anna Hester powered Johnson County. Valadez led the team with 17 kills, which is the second highest match total of her career. She also had a kill percentage of .378.  Hester was close behind with 15 kills and led the team with a kill percentage of .387. 

Freshman hitters Kayla Neigenfind and Shannon Riley also reached double digits in kills. Neigenfind finished with 12, and Riley was one back with 11. 

Sophomore Jade Askren led the offense with 49 assists, and freshman Rylie Barnum and sophomore Torey Burkhardt led the dig department with 26 and 12 respectively. 

Against Lincoln Land, Hester and Valadez again were top hitters. Hester recorded 19 kills and hit .485, and Valadez had 14 kills and a kill percentage of .314. Riley also was double figures with 10 kills. 

Askren topped 50 assists for just the second time of her career, finishing with 52, and Barnum was credited with 20 digs to lead the team 

Johnson County (29-7) will face No. 2 seed Parkland College (55-2) today at 5:30 PM CST, for the opportunity to play for a national championship.  One of Parkland's two losses this season occurred on Sept. 7, when JCCC handed the Cobras a 3-1 loss at Kirkwood Community College Classic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The other semifinal match pits No. 5 seed Kirkwood with No. 1 seed, defending champion and KJCCC opponent Coffeyville Community College. 

The winners will play for the national title on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m. The third place match will take place at 3 p.m.