Jayhawks’ Volleyball Team Improves To 22-0 With Victory Over Butler County
A couple months ago, I headed to the Physical Education Complex at Jamestown Community College to take photographs of the Jayhawks’ fall sports teams.
What struck me most that day were the members of the women’s volleyball squad.
All seven of them, including just one sophomore.
“When you walk out that first day of practice,” Jamestown CC coach Ashley Lund said, “you see seven kids standing on the court. Six of them you have no idea what type of player they are, (so) I didn’t see this coming at all.”
What “this” is, is pretty remarkable.
By virtue of the Jayhawks’ 25-8, 25-8, 26-24 NJCAA non-conference victory over Butler County CC on Monday night, they’ll enter the postseason with a 22-0 record.
“We’ve had long win streaks,” said Lund, who is in her ninth season, “but I’ve never been unbeaten. I don’t like it.”
As she spoke, Lund laughed.
Keep in mind that coaches are a notoriously superstitious lot who tend to view long unbeaten streaks as further ammunition for opponents, as she put it, to “take you out.”
But there appears to be something special about this collection of young ladies.
Led by returning NJCAA All-American SallyAnne Rudny (Jamestown/Southwestern Central School), the Jayhawks were ranked No. 7 in last week’s Division III poll, and they will likely move up this week after they defeated previously unbeaten Onondaga CC over the weekend in the Niagara County CC POD.
And while Rudny, the lone sophomore, is as good as ever — she collected two digs, 18 kills and five digs last night in her final regular-season home match — every player on the team has made a contribution.
Against Butler County CC, Sierra Wells (Jamestown/Southwestern) had four aces, 32 assists, three kills and 14 digs; MacKenzie Marsh (Randolph/Randolph) added two aces, 10 kills, four digs and one block; Kendyl Austin (Lakewood/Southwestern) chipped in seven kills, seven digs and one block; and Tara Sweeney (Ashville/Panama) had seven kills, seven digs and one block.
Kaylin Brumagin (Cattaraugus/Cattaraugus-Little Valley) and Alyssa McCarthy (Falconer/Falconer) have also made an impact in their first seasons.
“Sometimes,” Lund said, “teams have someone, if they just have small numbers, that they are trying to hide. We don’t have that person. Everyone is a weapon. Everyone is contributing in their own way.”
Rudny has shown the way.
“I think she has just … embraced it,” Lund said. “Like, ‘I’m going to show you how to do it. I’m going to lead the way and set the pace.’ Everyone is kind of following right behind her. It’s been nice to have that, and she’s super encouraging. She’s just a good kid and I couldn’t ask for more.”
Against Butler County CC (15-5), the Jayhawks had little trouble in the first two games, but found themselves trailing, 24-20, in the third. One point away from seeing the match extended, Jamestown CC scored the final six points, three via Rudny kills.
“I just love seeing the kids come in here and do their thing and have these crowds,” Lund said. “I think this is one of the best crowds we’ve ever had here.”
Included in the crowd were the families of Lund and her assistant coach, Lauren Beichner. The women have successfully juggled the demands of family — each of them is married with young children — while simultaneously guiding one of the top Division III programs in the nation.
“We set practice from 5 to 7 every day,” Lund said. “That is the time that we’re going to devote to the team. Two hours is all I ask of them. … Our families make sacrifices, absolutely, but they’re willing to do that for a couple months. … I couldn’t ask for a better partner in this either. (Beichner) has a full-time job, she has a family at home, but she’s still willing to (coach).”
Together, Lund, Beichner and the players have made it work.
This weekend, the Jayhawks will participate in the Western New York Athletic Conference tournament at Genesee CC, followed on Oct. 28 and 29 by the Region 3 Division III Tournament, which will be played at Jamestown CC. The Jayhawks will enter the regional as the top seed.
“It’s always nerve-wracking to go in as the No. 1,” Lund said. “I feel like all season we’ve had a bullseye on our back and we’ve done well with it. I feel like we can do the same (at the regional).”
And what about beyond that?
“We still don’t talk about it,” Lund said of the NJCAA national tournament next month. “It’s not brought up. It’s about the next game and how do we better ourselves.”
That blueprint has worked well since the Super Seven arrived on campus in August.
“I knew we would do well,” Lund said. “I knew we had talent, but did I envision this type of season? Not in my wildest dreams.”