Volleyball Lackluster Finish to a Great Season
The Bellevue College volleyball team went into the four-day NWAACC Volleyball Championship Tournament held at Mt. Hood CC in Gresham, Oregon, with high expectations. The team excitedly received their Northern Region Co-Champion trophy on Wednesday night, as well as recognition for First Team North Region All-Stars Kylai Cooley and Danielle Smullin, and Second Team North Region All-Stars Darian Foley and Sara Pulaski. However, the Bulldogs were destined to play only three more games on the season in the double-elimination tournament.
Thursday afternoon was a battle against Oregon’s Linn Benton, the eventual 4th place finisher. The Bulldogs won in five games, 25-14, 19-25, 25-23, 12-25, 15-12. The effort was led by Darian Foley and Kylai Cooley with 12 kills apiece, followed by Kelcie Russell with 10, Roshel Muzzall with nine, and Allison Chin with five. The defensive effort was led by Sara Pulaski with 29 digs, followed by Cooley with 25, Ashley Bailey with 17, and Stephanie Antioquia with 15. Setter Danielle Smullin had 40 assists in the match.
Early Friday afternoon, the Bulldogs faced Highline and eventually fell in five games, 25-19, 12-25, 25-18, 12-25, 10-15. Foley again led the offense with 16 kills, followed by Cooley with 12 and Muzzall with 10. Pulaski and Cooley led the defense again with 21 digs each, followed by Bailey with 12 and Smullin with 10. Smullin also had 42 assists for the match. Unfortunately, the low hitting efficiency and unforced errors ended the Bulldogs’ goal of remaining in the winning side of the bracket.
Now in the losing side of the bracket, the games are best two out of three, rather than three out of five in the winning side, the Bulldogs needed to come together quickly to put together a game. The quick game time turnaround of less than three hours proved to be too much for the team as they fell to Spokane in only two games, 26-28 and 22-25, eliminating Bellevue from the double elimination tournament.
“We had dozens of unforced errors in both of our losses,” Head Coach Kim Culliton said. “Our hitting percentage against Spokane was .077 and against Highline was .117. It is impossible to be successful with such a low efficiency. Smarter attacks and touches on the ball were necessary, and the team just couldn’t get rolling. It was a disappointing finish to such a great season. I applaud my two assistant coaches for sticking in it this year. Good luck to our sophomores, and we shall see what the future holds,” Culliton concluded.
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