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College volleyball: Coaches eager to see how teams respond after North Idaho ends CC Spokane’s 62-match winning streak

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 8, 2019, 7:42 p.m.

The North Idaho volleyball team celebrates with fans after the Cardinals snapped Community Colleges of Spokane’s 62-match winning streak on Oct. 4 at Spokane Falls Community College. (North Idaho Athletics / Courtesy)
The North Idaho volleyball team celebrates with fans after the Cardinals snapped Community Colleges of Spokane’s 62-match winning streak on Oct. 4 at Spokane Falls Community College. (North Idaho Athletics / Courtesy)

One of the region’s most impressive winning streaks came to an end Friday night when North Idaho College volleyball upended Community Colleges of Spokane.

The Sasquatch had won 62 consecutive matches dating back to the 2017 NWAC Tournament. Their unbeaten streak stretched over a season and half, including a 40-0 campaign last season that marked the NWAC’s first unbeaten team since 2008.

The Sasquatch bulldozed most opponents while starting out 22-0 this season. They dropped just one set in their first five East Division matches and eight sets overall.

One of CCS’s wins was a four-setter over NIC in a preseason tournament. It appeared a similar result was unfolding Friday when Spokane built a huge lead in the third set before hanging on to take a 2-1 lead.

“It was a lot of heart, we never once gave up,” Cardinals coach Kelsey Stanley said. “At one point we were down like 10 and I was like, ‘This isn’t good.’ But we made it into a one-point game toward the end.

“The momentum (from rallying from) down 10 in the third set carried over into the fourth and fifth. That was huge for us.”

NIC took the last two sets 25-20 and 15-9.

“We talked afterward for a while about it,” Sasquatch coach Jenni Hull said. “I’m proud of it because they were pretty composed that whole time. There were a few times they got rattled, but for the most part they didn’t have the highs and lows (during the streak). We didn’t play better than them and they deserved to win.”

The question now: How do both teams react?

The breakthrough win gives NIC a one-game lead over CCS in the East, but there’s still a month left in the regular season, including a rematch Nov. 1 in Coeur d’Alene and possibly a third clash at the NWAC Tournament.

“It was a big deal, for the girls more than anything,” Stanley said. “I just keep telling our girls it’s not over. We’re excited and I’m excited for them, but things change so quickly. Spokane is going to be ready the next time.”

The Sasquatch are in the rare position of trying to bounce back from a loss. They obviously didn’t want to drop a match, but it could alleviate the pressure of carrying a lengthy winning streak on their shoulders.

“I think every week the target kept getting larger and a little bit more of a burden,” Hull said. “It actually could be a good thing for our team to learn from a loss and regroup. It was lovely in our practice gym on Saturday, a scheduled practice. They’re encouraged, and it’s all about getting better over the next month.”

On Wednesday, CCS visits Yakima Valley and NIC entertains Blue Mountain.

Cougars earn rare

road win over USC

Washington State dug out a five-set thriller Sunday over USC that ended 21 years of road frustration against the Trojans. The Cougars trailed 10-7 in the fifth before rallying to win 15-13.

It was another impressive victory for the 24th-ranked Cougars (13-3, 2-2 Pac-12). WSU has one of the youngest teams in the nation with numerous true and redshirt freshmen in prominent roles, but the Cougars already own a win over then-No. 8 Washington and a gritty five-set road win over traditional power USC.

“Sometimes yeah, for sure,” replied coach Jen Greeny, when asked if she’s surprised by her team’s accomplishments. “We really didn’t know what to expect from everybody when you’ve been with them for about a month and a half and we’re going up against some of the most storied programs in volleyball history.

“We definitely handled ourselves a lot better in this five-set match than we did against Cal (in a loss Sept. 28). This group actually makes adjustments pretty well, especially the fight and attitude and keeping heads up that we’re trying to instill in them.”

Greeny was a senior and played a key role in WSU’s 1998 victory on USC’s home court.

“I just remember that it was the first time we’d won there and it was in the old North Gym they used to play in (before the Galen Center opened in 2006),” Greeny said. “Steve Grubbs (WSU volleyball radio announcer) brought up a stat line that I had 13 blocks. That was my last weekend as a player. I dislocated my ankle the next week, so I ended on a high note.”

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