Game on!

Columbia College volleyball season starts with a bang.

Volleyball game in progress
The 2009 volleyball team had a perfect 16-0 conference record to finish first in the American Midwest Conference (AMC) and for the 16th consecutive season headed to the NAIA National Tournament. The season ended early for the talented and fearless squad, however, as the Cougars failed to advance out of pool play. Head coach Melinda Wrye-Washington, finishing her 10th season at the helm, was named AMC Coach of the Year.

"I don’t want us to level off really early and just try to maintain," Wrye-Washington was quoted as saying about the current season. "I want to keep building our level as we go throughout the season, and I want to peak at Nationals. We need to win the conference. We have goals, short-term goals and long-term goals and our goal at the end is to be present when it comes down to the end."

The end came quickly for the Central Methodist (Mo.) University Eagles in the Cougars' first match in late August. The Cougars dominated from the opening serve, notching 14 kills in game one compared to the Eagles’ five, and won easily by scores of 25-12, 25-14 and 25-8.

Quicker style of play

The Cougars could also see improvement by virtue of their size. Wrye-Washington said the added size of the team has also created a quicker style of play. Right side hitter and senior Christy Sontag is 6 feet-5 inches and sophomore transfer Kelly Corkum 6 feet 4 inches, two of the biggest Cougars in recent years. Sophomore transfer Trinity Ojo stands 6 feet 3 inches; add 6-foot-2-inch Nicole Murphy and 6-foot-1-inch Ola Shawky, and the Cougars have a lot more height than last year.

Volleyball scrimmage
Corkum, a native of Toronto, won the Ontario Volleyball Association Award of Excellence in 2006, and led her team to the Toronto District College Athletic Association Championship in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Another newcomer, Erin Pavlin, of Springfield, Mo., who comes to Columbia College after a successful career at Kickapoo High School where she was an All-Conference, All-District, All-Region and All-State recipient as a libero, holds the Kickapoo single-season digs record with 655.

Corkum and Pavlin join such outstanding players as Paula Ferreira, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (AMC Setter and Freshman of the Year and NAIA Third Team All-American) and Tally Mattos, also Brazil (First Team All-Conference and NAIA Honorable-Mention All-American).

The Quality Inn Classic, hosted by Columbia College, was played over Labor Day weekend. Regular season play continues with a trip to the Graceland University Tournament on Sept. 10 and 11 and conference play starts on Monday, Sept. 13 vs. Missouri Baptist University. All home matches are played in the Arena of Southwell Complex.

Come out and cheer for the high-jumping, hard-hitting Cougars!

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