• March 1, 2021

COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL: Odessa College sweeps long-awaited season opener - Odessa American: Odessa College

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COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL: Odessa College sweeps long-awaited season opener

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Posted: Friday, January 22, 2021 9:32 pm

The wait finally over, the Odessa College volleyball team got right to work.

Playing their first match of the season due to COVID-19 restrictions and rescheduling, the Lady Wranglers swept Missouri State University-West Plains, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19, during the first day of competition of the NMMI Classic Friday at the OC Sports Center.

The Lady Wranglers (1-0) are hosting the tournament because of restrictions in New Mexico.

Andrea Spasojevic had 13 kills to lead Odessa College, with Savannah Marenco finishing with 12 and Luisa Silva Dos Santos adding 10 to the victory.

“It was nice to get the rust off, we definitely needed it,” Odessa College coach Kristy Gray said. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”

The victory, delayed by the pandemic, also was Gray’s 100th at the helm of the program.

“Definitely a reflection of the teams that we’ve brought into this program and how far we’ve come,” she said.

Manuela Bibinbe was a dominant force in the middle for the Badgers, finishing with 13 kills, often times hammering the ball off the hands of the Odessa College blockers.

The opening set was a back-and-forth affair early, the teams trading sideouts until Silva Dos Santos ran off five straight points from the service line for a 10-6 lead.

West Plains responded with a 6-2 run to level the set and then teams battled the rest of the way, with Odessa College gaining separation at 20-17 and 22-18 before holding off one last rally for the set victory.

Spasojevic had five kills in the set to pace the Lady Wranglers. She played last season at New Mexico Junior College and transferred to Odessa College after the Thunderbirds shuttered their athletic programs this season.

She made an immediate impact for the Lady Wranglers.

“I tell her every day, to not take this the wrong way, that I love that’s she here and so glad that we’re not playing against her,” Gray said. “She’s going to be very good for us, she’s starting to buy into what we do here and she’s a phenomenal athlete.

“She’s a sophomore so she’s a returner. She’s a natural leader and she’s just physical and very strong.”

Odessa College didn’t wait as long to impose its will in the second set, jumping out to a 14-5 lead on the strength of the serves of Vanessa Colling and Spasojevic. They paced a 9-1 run that broke the set open.

It was more of the same in the third set as Tessa Glick and Colling worked from the service line to put the Lady Wranglers in front, 10-4, and they never were threatened the rest of the match.

“We work on serving all the time,” Gray said. “That and serve receive we do pretty much every day.

“I don’t like missed serves, they know that, and we always want to serve aggressive, which I think we do a good job of. I told them in the locker room that I was very pleased with how low of an error game we had for our first match out.”

>> Odessa College 3, Navarro College 0: Spasojevic and Silva Dos Santos each had eight kills to lead the Lady Wranglers to a 25-19, 25-18, 25-17 sweep of the defending NJCAA Division I national champion and preseason No. 1 during the first day of the NMMI Classic.

Navarro (1-1) was a perfect 31-0 in capturing the national title in 2019, with no teams playing in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Vanessa Colling had 19 assists and Siena DeCambra added 18 more in the victory, which improved Odessa College to 2-0 on the season.

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