Top-ranked Bruins ready to begin conference play
Oct 31, 2018 03:30PM
● By Jana Klopsch
The Salt Lake Community College volleyball team has been ranked in the top five nationally for most of its season. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The Salt Lake Community College volleyball team’s diversity has helped them maintain a top ranking in 2018. A mix of women from three different countries and even several local players has combined to form a nationally ranked powerhouse.
“I think the chemistry on the team is different this year,” head coach Sue Dulaney said. “We have 10 freshmen, and we have a lot of growth going on. These girls are getting to know the college game. The game is faster, and we expect more things out of them. We have played some pretty quality teams with long rallies. I think they get it now and see why we preach the stuff we do.”
The Bruins opened their season with 14 straight victories, helping lead them to a top-five national ranking. After a loss to Seward County Community College (3-0) they reeled off seven straight wins. Their conference season has been highlighted by a 3-0 sweep of top-ranked College of Southern Idaho. The team is composed of players from all different backgrounds stands on top of the Region 18 standings.
“We find these kids with word of mouth,” Dulaney said. “I would like to say that I go to Brazil every year, but I don’t. We get kids that want to come here. Over the summer, we had some transition. I had recruited many of these girls early. We have girls from all over, but I think we do a good job of recruiting in state too.”
Freshman outside hitter Hellen Lacava, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, has become an instant leader on the floor for the Bruins. Her 3.1 kills per set lead the team.
“She (Lacava) is smart and one of our best passers,” Dulaney said. “She is a level-headed player. She doesn’t get too high or low or super cheery or frustrated. She plays with a lot of maturity. She changes up things and is like a coach on the floor. The rest of the team is learning from her. She is an international player and has played probably 10,000 more matches than these kids.”
Lacava is not the only foreign-born player to make a new home in Taylorsville. Freshman setter Bruna Correa is from Rio De Janeiro, and Ariane Pola is from Auckland, New Zealand.
Correa has become the team’s setter.
“I see her (Correa) learning the American way of playing the game,” Dulaney said. “She sometimes goes back to her Brazilian ways, but she has really directed the game on the floor for us.”
In a preseason match Aug. 28 against Eastern Arizona, the Bruins found themselves down in the first set 9-8 but a directed set from Correra to the hard-hitting Lacava landing in the opponent's back court changed the momentum and led the Bruins to a 3-0 victory (25-17, 25-15, 25-13).
“We are gritty,” Dulaney said. “We don’t let a lot of balls hit the ground. We don’t get frustrated when we make a mistake. They have developed a camaraderie, and they are learning together rather than having a coach always tell them what to do. They play their game.”
Dulaney is also quick to point out the younger group of players is still learning the game and finding places that the team works together best.
“She (Ryley Daniel) is the top server on our team and an on the right side she is lights out,” she said. “We have found she needs to be in the game all-around. That is the fun part early on with this young team. The freshman excel and they start to figure it out.”
The Scenic West Conference is the home of last season’ national runner-up College of Southern Idaho. Last year, there was a three-way tie for the conference championship between CSI, Snow College and SLCC. The Bruins lost a coin flip and eventually lost a chance to for a position in the national tournament.
“It has been a great start to the season,” Dulaney said. “We want to win a region title and get to nationals.”
The Region 18 tournament is scheduled for Nov. 2–3 at the regular season champion’s home court. The National Junior College championship tournament is scheduled for Nov. 15–19 in Hutchinson, Kansas.