The North Platte Community College Knights tasted the opposite side of the win column on Saturday.
After sweeping two teams in straight sets to open their season Friday, the Knights ended the final day of the Mid-Plains Subway Invite at McDonald-Belton Gymnasium with a pair of losses against Canadian-based Durham College (Oshawa, Ontario), and Eastern Wyoming College.
"Today didn’t go quite how we would’ve liked it to go, but we did play some tougher teams," NPCC head coach Alexa McCall said. "We needed that. We needed to test our strength a little bit. I think we can beat teams like that, but it just wasn’t our day."
The Knights (2-2) carried their momentum into the final day of the tournament, taking an early 7-1 lead over Durham College in the opening set, but erratic struggles on the offensive end kept the Knights from building a consistent lead over the course of a four-set (22-25, 25-21, 16-25, 21-25) loss.
"It really was our pass that broke down in that first game," McCall said. "When we were in system, they weren’t able stop us in one-on-one situations and we were getting nice kills. But we just couldn’t get our pass to where it needed to be enough times to set up our system."
Despite 48 assists from freshman Erica Hopping and 14 kills apiece from Alysen Daniels and Gabby Menghini, the Knights’ 42 combined errors on offense proved too much to overcome.
On the defensive side, the Knights combined for 85 digs and six blocks. Bailey Chintala’s 21 digs proved a game-high for both teams, while Menghini followed with 14.
Following the loss against the Lords, the Knights attempted to bounce back against Eastern Wyoming, who had swept Durham earlier in the day to remain undefeated in the tournament.
But the Lancers finished their run at the Subway Invite with a three-set (20-25, 11-25, 22-25) sweep over the Knights. Despite NPCC’s attempt to correct some of their errors committed in the previous game, weathering a strong Lancer attack became another issue entirely.
"We let them be in system too many times," McCall said of EWC. "They’re a tough team to stop when they’re in system, and when you kind of give a team balls at this level they’ll put it away in your face."
The Knights combined for just 31 kills on 109 attempts offensively, while attempting to slow down a Lancers front line responsible for over 60 kills.
Menghini led the Knights attack with nine kills, while Hopping posted 27 assists and 11 digs.
Finishing the weekend at .500 was not what McCall wanted, but the Knights’ focus turns to Northeastern Junior College on Wednesday at home.
"They’re a tough team, and they’ve always been," McCall said of NJC. "I hope that we can get some kinks figured out and be ready to play. These games have given us some experience, so I hope what we learned here this weekend translates over to Wednesday."