Jayhawks Cruise In Opener

Jamestown Community College’s Jenna Caskey is about to deliver a spike during Thursday’s NJCAA Region 3 Division III volleyball match against Niagara County CC at the Physical Education Complex. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

The Jamestown Community College women’s volleyball team made a strong impression for the fans gathered inside the Physical Education Complex on Thursday evening, cruising past Niagara County CC in three sets to begin the NJCAA Region 3 Division III season.

Relinquishing just six points in the opening set, the Jayhawks would close the evening out with scores of 25-19 in the second and 25-19 in the third while taking advantage of increased roster size for this year’s squad.

While Coach Ashley Lund’s team was forced to play without the benefit of substitutions during much of last year’s campaign, this year’s lineup includes some room to maneuver.

“It kind of sets my mind at ease,” Lund said of having more players. “I’m not panicking every time something happens because I know that I have the opportunity to take somebody out and put somebody in and let them catch their breath. That definitely makes things a little bit easier when I go into the game.”

Also putting Lund’s mind at ease is the addition of plenty of talent from this year’s freshmen class.

Jamestown Community College’s Sierra Wells sets a ball during Thursday’s NJCAA Region 3 Division III volleyball match against Niagara County CC. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

Seven different players on the Jamestown CC team are first-year players, a group that will be guided by sophomores Kaylin Brumagin, Sierra Wells and Kendyl Austin.

From the beginning of Thursday night’s contest, Austin showed why she will play such an important role this season, notching the first two points of the night on push finishes to get the Jayhawks out of the gate.

Cassadaga Valley graduate Jenna Caskey followed that path in stride, hitting a tip finish of her own to give Jamestown CC the lead at 9-4, which was followed up by a fake-out finish from Wells.

Jamestown would cruise through the early going, earning an 18-4 lead on the back of another spike by Caskey.

“She has the potential to be awesome for us,” Lund said of Caskey. “She’s kind of a convert for us to the outside. She’s basically a middle and I needed an outside, so I kind of pushed her out that way and she’s doing the things that I’m asking her to do and making the right plays.”

The move appears to be working, as Caskey would finish with a pair of aces, 12 kills, four digs and one block.

On one occasion, the 6-foot freshman struck an huge overhand late in the third set that sent a ripple of cheers through the crowd.

A pair of tipped balls at the net by Megan Gominiak would give Jamestown CC an early lead in the second set, but Niagara County CC was able to return fire with a block from Caitlyn Vishion.

The Thunderwolves would earn their first lead of the night at 12-11 after Jessi Wood finished off a point with an underhand drop shot, but more strong hitting from Caskey would give the Jayhawks back their lead at 15-12.

A spike from Gominiak and an ace by Wells would give Jamestown CC back the lead at 20-15 while Savannah Damon added a hard-hit ball in the closing points.

“We did pretty good,” said Lund. “As far as what I expected we’re getting there. We still have some things to improve on. I want to see our passing getting a little bit better so that we can run our offense a little harder, but as far as what we did and what we accomplished that’s our goal. To win and to do it in three is even better.”

Austin would continue her strong play early on in the final frame, while the Jayhawks were able to take advantage of some missed serves and carry penalties on their way to winning the final set.

In addition to the play of Caskey, Maple Grove alumnus Madison Russo also had a strong showing to start the year, picking up four aces with one kill and three digs.

Wells would finish with two aces, 26 assists, one kill, four digs and one block while Austin grabbed two aces, 14 kills and five digs.

The Jayhawks will now face their first POD test of the season on Sunday at Herkimer CC, where the hosts figure to provide some challenges up front.

“I already got the heads-up that they have two big middles so that will be something that we’ll have to work on,” said Lund.