WENATCHEE — Daria Winckler knows that her Wenatchee Valley College volleyball team is capable of winning matches in the second half of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges East Region season. She knows that her team has enough talent to win.
The Knights, quite simply, aren’t winning yet. They’ve shown the upside of their abilities in certain stretches, but haven’t been consistent enough to go on the winning streak they desperately need to go on.
“I’m hoping we can pull it all together,” Winckler said after her team lost in four sets to Walla Walla on Wednesday at Smith Gymnasium. “We have moments where we’re very much in control. We know we can do it. That’s why (the losing is) frustrating.”
The Knights entered the match in sixth place in the East (the top four teams qualify for postseason play), and fell to 1-5 with their 25-16, 27-25, 19-25, 25-15 loss to the third-place Warriors. WVC is going to need to find what it’s been missing soon, or else it’s not going to qualify for the NWAACC Tournament.
Things won’t get easier in the short term — WVC will play top-ranked Blue Mountain, the defending NWAACC champions, on Saturday.
But Winckler believes that the region’s relative parity (outside of the Timberwolves) could benefit her team in the second half of the season.
“There’s teams that are beatable,” she said. “A lot of the teams (in the region) are similar, so a lot of these matches can go either way. It just comes down to who decides to fight for it. We need to compete for the match, not just for a game. We have the pieces here to build with.”
The Knights peaked in the third set Wednesday; after almost winning the second set, they played near-flawless volleyball in the third —they committed just three errors and tallied 12 kills.
But they weren’t able to keep up that level of play in the fourth set — they quickly fell behind and weren’t able to recover.
“(In the third set), we came out with some momentum,” Winckler said. “During the break (before the set), we talked, and came out with a fire that lasted for a while. Then it flamed out.”
Brianna Perry led the Knights with 12 kills.
WVC 3, Yakima Valley 0
For the first time in more than two years, the WVC women’s soccer team walked off a field after a match as the winning team.
The Knights snapped a 42-game winless streak with a shutout win over host Yakima Valley.
“It’s special,” Knights coach Yanet Candido said in a phone interview after the game. “It’s a win that we needed to get so the girls get their confidence up from now on. Getting this win was important for us, but it was actually nerve-wracking.”
The WVC program bottomed out last year, allowing 158 goals while scoring just seven. But the Knights have played much more competitively this year, and on Oct. 5, they emerged with a draw against Treasure Valley that snapped an 18-game road losing streak.
Ending one streak after another is a sign that the program is heading in a different direction.
“The (players) were excited (after the game) — they were taking pictures, posting them,” Candido said. “It was awesome for them to see their hard work pay off.”
The Knights (1-7-1 East Region) and Yaks both entered the match winless in East play.
“We came into the match hoping that we’d get a win. They came in thinking the same thing,” Candido said. “It wasn’t easy for either team. We were nervous at first, but we lost the nerves when we scored twice in the first half. Yakima wanted (to win) bad — they played hard, and we were pretty scared they’d get one in on us.”
But the Yaks didn’t, thanks to a standout performance from a Knights defense that was bolstered by the return of captain Kala Brindle, who had been out with a concussion.
Goalkeeper Kirsten Flones made 12 saves.
“Our defense was strong,” Candido said. “I had to move a couple players around (with Brindle’s return). Kala played well, and Dani Vargas looked good, along with Megan Parks. And Kirsten was outstanding in goal; she really saved us a couple times.”
The Knights scored in the 19th minute with a goal by London Cleverly, then added one just before halftime on a marker by Vargas.
Alma Franco tallied the Knights’ third goal in the 89th minute.
“We got the win,” Candido said, “and now I hope that we can go into our next match (Saturday against Columbia Basin) confident with the same mindset.”