Defense boosts Bucs in sweep of Wharton

Blinn College volleyball coach Erin Mellinger wasn't worried when Wharton County Junior College made a run to tie the score late in the third set.

The 14th-ranked Buccaneers proved her right, taking four of the match's final six points to come away with a 3-0 sweep of the Lady Pioneers in Region XIV Conference action here Tuesday night. Blinn defeated Wharton County 25-16, 25-18, 25-23.

"I was very, very pleased with tonight," Mellinger said. "We got better tonight."

The Buccaneers led throughout the match, but for Mellinger, the difference came in the second set when Blinn missed a block and the Lady Pioneers got the opportunity for a kill shot. But sophomore libero Cara Fisher made a huge dig, sending the ball back over the net. Wharton slammed the ball back over the net once more, and again Fisher made the dig, this time passing to setter Crystal Young, who set the ball to Ksenia Sukhareva for one of the sophomore's 10 kills on the night.

"It was huge," Mellinger said. "The entire gym went silent. It was a momentum changer."
In the third set, Blinn led 21-17 and was poised to easily complete the sweep before Wharton County rallied for four consecutive points to tie the score. Mellinger called a timeout to get the momentum back on the Bucs' side.

"I wasn't that stressed because I knew we would respond," she said.
Sukhareva and freshman middle blocker Bruna Evangelista shared the team lead with 10 kills apiece, and freshman middle blocker Emily Salter posted eight kills without an error in 12 attempts.

"Our middles were just unreal," Mellinger said. "They were so good tonight. We were really, really connecting."

Fisher finished with 16 digs and Brenham High School grad Molly Duge added 10. Young led the Bucs with 33 assists while Sukhareva finished with nine digs.

The win improved Blinn to 14-4 on the season and 3-1 in conference play.

The Buccaneers have now won the first three of seven consecutive matches on the road.

On Friday, the Bucs travel to Athens, Texas for a 6 p.m. match against Trinity Valley Community College.

Gerig signs with LSU
April 12, 2012 Gerig signs with LSU