The Blinn College volleyball team capped off the Labor Day Classic in Brenham Saturday with a pair of victories over Labette (Kan.) Community College and Panola College.
Blinn swept Labette 25-12, 25-20, 25-15 and defeated Panola 25-14, 25-18, 16-25, 25-18 to finish with three victories in four tournament matches for the weekend.
The defending national champion Buccaneers were coming off a disappointing loss to 13th-ranked Western Texas on Friday night, and after that match the team spent almost an hour in the locker room discussing ways the team could improve its performance.
That discussion appeared to pay off Friday, as the Buccaneers controlled the tempo of both matches.
"There was some major team growth tonight," coach Erin Mellinger said. "We gave up some runs, but for the most part we held our own when we were in leads and we didn't give up when we were down."
Sophomore outside hitter Ksenia Sukhareva led the way against Labette, posting 14 kills while freshman setter Crystal Young dished out 33 assists. Freshman middle blocker Bruna Evangelista reached double digits with 10 kills, while Tori Estrada (12 digs) and Cara Fisher (11 digs) led the defense.
The Buccaneers relied on their outside hitters in the nightcap as Sukhareva and fellow outside hitter Tyanna Roy each posted double-doubles. Sukhareva finished with 17 kills and 10 digs.
"Where Ksenia was really good tonight was in pressure situations," Mellinger said. "She terminated balls when she needed to terminate balls. She was telling people to settle down and then telling Crystal to get her the ball, and that was some major growth for her, stepping up as a leader and as a sophomore."
Roy added 16 kills, 10 digs and five blocks.
"Tyanna went to a different level tonight, and she played the volleyball I know she can play," Mellinger said.
Evangelista had 10 kills and eight blocks, and Young had a strong night as well, totaling 47 assists and four blocks. Estrada led the defense with 20 digs.
The wins improved the Buccaneers to 7-2 on the season.
Blinn's next competition will come at the Patriot's Day Tournament in The Woodlands beginning Friday. The Buccaneers face No. 20 Gadsden (Ga.) State at 2 p.m., then face Frank Phillips College at 4:30. On Saturday, the Bucs play Hillsboro at 11 a.m., then cap off the tournament with a 4 p.m. match against seventh-ranked Salt Lake Community College.