The Ellsworth Community College volleyball team opened the season this past weekend, Aug. 26-27, on the road competing in the Ridgewater Classic in Willmar, MN, and then taking on NIACC on Aug. 31.
The first day of the Ridgewater tournament the Panthers kept the games close but fell to Central Lakes 20-25, 17-25 and 12-25 and to Ridgewater 25-21, 16-25, 17-25 and 25-27. ECC rebounded from the losses and took two wins in the second day of the tournament over Lake Region 16-24, 25-16, 25-21 and 25-17 and Riverland 25-16, 25-23 and 25-15.
The Panthers played well together, splitting the stats between the team. Nicole Nielsen led the Panthers with 29 kills, 43 digs, 4 aces and 3 total blocks. Alexis Charles had 24 kills, 20 digs, 16 aces and 2 total blocks. Tiffany Jacobson had 20 kills and 4.5 total blocks. Carlin Whelpley had 60 digs and 4 aces, and Ashley Kraber had 96 assists and 34 digs.
"Our goal going into the weekend was to get two wins, and we did that easily. Not only did we accomplish our goal, but we also improved in each match that we played over the course of the two days," commented ECC Head Volleyball Coach Ashley Clark. "I was happy with the overall performance and especially with the fact that the skills we have focused on the most were consistent throughout the weekend. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are definitely at a good starting point."
Coming off of the tournament weekend, the Panthers lost in three sets to NIACC on Aug. 31. ECC kept the games close, losing 22-25, 18-25 and 19-25. Jacobson had 8 kills; Allison Sheridan contributed 5 kills, .5 blocks and 3 digs; Kraber had 19 assists; Myriana Martinez had 10 digs; and Whelpley had 7 digs.
The Panthers will continue on the road for the next matches in the Highland Tournament in Highland, KS. They will play on Friday, Sept. 2, at 1 and 5 pm and again on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 11 am and 3 pm.