The top-ranked Blinn College volleyball team picked up its first two home wins of the season at the Applebee's Classic in the Blinn P.E. Building Friday night, sweeping matches against Eastern Arizona College and fifth-ranked Tyler Junior College.
The defending national champion Buccaneers defeated Eastern Arizona 25-12, 25-14, 25-12, then topped Tyler 25-21, 26-24, 25-17 in a rematch of last season's NJCAA championship and Region XIV Conference Tournament matches. The matches marked the Buccaneers' first in Brenham since winning the 2013 NJCAA Division I championship.
"We did a good job putting pressure on Tyler," Blinn (6-0) coach Erin Mellinger said. "We have some areas where we can improve, but even when we had slumps we came back and played hard."
Rachel Sharp led the Bucs with nine kills, and Tawnee Luafalemana added six kills and six blocks. Abolanle Onipede and Rebecca Reeve each posted five kills and four blocks, while Jaeda Allen added another five kills.
"I thought we did a pretty good job blocking, and honestly our serving kept us where we were at," Mellinger said. "I thought it would play an important part, and we did a good job of serving aggressively."
Sharp had another big match against Eastern Arizona, leading the way with eight kills and four blocks. Onipede and Alualu each added six kills, while Luafalemana added five blocks.
LaMont was again a defensive stalwart with a team-high nine digs, while Tuiolosega posted 12 assists and six digs. Keamo had a team-high 14 assists.
"We played all right," Mellinger said. "We just had some first-game jitters. We had big crowds and it was loud in there, but we did a pretty good job. Rachel played well against Eastern and Tyler, and Jordyn did a really good job against Eastern."
The Buccaneers won all four of their matches – and all 12 sets – in their season-opening appearance at the Dana Hatch Invitational in Tyler. They have yet to lose any of their first 18 sets this season.
Blinn will conclude the Applebee's Classic Saturday with a 1 p.m. match against Yavapai (Ariz.) College and a 7 p.m. tilt against Navarro College.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 29 NJCAA national championships since 1987. For more information, visit www.buccaneersports.com.
About Blinn College
Founded in 1883, Blinn is a comprehensive community college committed to educational excellence and to individual and community enhancement. With an enrollment of 18,413 students, Blinn ranks among the nation's leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for its affordable educational excellence.
As part of its commitment to student success, Blinn is implementing a Quality Enhancement Plantitled, "Destination Success: First-Year Focus," which utilizes learning communities to support first-year college students.
For enrollment information and to learn about financial aid opportunities, visit: www.blinn.edu.