TWIN FALLS — The College of Southern Idaho volleyball team has playoffs on its mind, but it had to handle business in its regular season finale against Colorado Northwestern Community College first.
After an error-heavy second set, the fifth-ranked Eagles rallied back on their Sophomore Night game to win 3-1 and improve to 26-3 on the season.
CSI got off to a hot start off the service pressure of sophomore Jasmyn Keohohina-Malina, who finished the game with 13 kills. The Eagles took that early lead to a 25-12 set victory, but fell in the second set 24-26 after allowing a 6-0 start by the Spartans.
Keohohina-Malina said head coach Heidi Cartisser sought out her sophomores in the locker room and asked how they felt about the way that set went.
“And she basically asked us how we would respond to that set — in a good way or in a sloppy way?” Keohohina-Malina said.
The answer was pretty clear. The Eagles capitalized on a lot of Spartan errors and used strong services and defense to win the next two sets 25-13 and 25-18.
Sophomore Jojo Kruize posted 12 kills and 10 digs, while sophomore Esti Wilson led the match with 23 digs, and sophomore Morgan Weatherwax totaled 41 assists.
Cartisser said a match win is always good, but she had her eyes pointed onward.
“We’re really using this game as preparation for next week,” Cartisser said.
Next week is the Region 18 tournament, where the Eagles will try to take their first-place seeding and home-court advantage and turn it into a Scenic West Athletic Conference Championship. Outside of a loss to the NJCAA Division I-best Miami-Dade, the only blemishes on CSI’s schedule have come at the hands of Salt Lake Community College, the second seed at next week’s tournament.
Keohohina-Malina said that she feels like the team is playing at a high level, but needs to show that earlier in matches.
“Our weakness is starting off slow and taking until the middle of the game to pick up our intensity,” she said. “I feel like we’re going to be more focused on playing strong early and being consistent.”
Cartisser says the Eagles don’t have a skill that they need to greatly improve on, but that ultimately revenge against Salt Lake, if they should meet, will come down to who will step up.
“I’m waiting for some of our sophomores to take the opportunity against Salt Lake to put it all out there,” she said.
First the Eagles will have to take on the winner of the four-five seed match between Utah State-Eastern and Colorado Northwestern on November 3.
But before that task, Cartisser had this one last regular season game to spend with her sophomores. She said even though she’s coached CSI volleyball for more than a decade, the Sophomore Night game never gets any easier.
“It’s probably my least favorite match,” she said. “Every year, it’s emotional.”