Dream Season Ends
The 2005 season was a magical one for the Cowley College volleyball team, as the Lady Tigers captured their first outright conference title since 1981, advanced to the NJCAA Division II National Championships for the first time since 1978, and finished as the national runner-up. Cowley finished the regular season with a record of 30-6 overall and 9-0 in the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division. The Lady Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the final regular season poll, and earned the No. 1-seed in the national tournament in Scottsdale, AZ.
Cowley opened the national tournament with a 30-23, 30-28, 30-23 win over eighth-seeded Central Community College (Neb.), and then defeated 12th-seeded Genessee Community College (N.Y.) 30-17, 23-30, 30-15, 23-30, 18-16. The Lady Tigers would then defeat seventh-seeded Iowa Lakes Community College 17-30, 30-18, 30-24, 20-30, 16-14 to advance to the semifinals, where they knocked off fifth-seeded Illinois Central College 31-29, 30-26, 30-25.
Cowley would move on to play Jayhawk East foe Johnson County Community College in the national championship game. Earlier in the season, the Lady Tigers defeated the second ranked Lady Cavaliers in five games. However, this time, Johnson County would prevail as they won a tightly contested national championship match by a score of 28-30, 31-33, 31- 29, 28-30. “I know we should be proud of ourselves, but we are all upset we lost the title game,” Cowley head coach Joanna Pryor said. “It’s hard to be in the situation where you have a chance to win a national championship and then not get it done.”
Cowley’s Fernanda Domingos, Eliane Domingos and Marina Tosi were each named to the national championship all-tournament team. Both Domingos sisters were also named First-Team All-Jayhawk East and All-District J performers. Aubrey Sullivan, who joined the Domingos sisters on the First-Team All-Jayhawk East and All-District J lists, was one of only three sophomores on the squad. Fernanda Domingos and Abby McHugh were the only other sophomores from a team that finished with a record of 34-7. “I wish we would have won the national championship for our sophomores,” Pryor said. “They worked their tails off and had faith in this year’s team. They are special kids that loved playing for Cowley, we will miss them.”
With only three sophomores on this year’s team, Cowley will return several talented freshmen next season. Players such as Eliane Domingos, Tosi, Ashley Wimsatt, Ashleigh Hurt, Renee Breckenridge and Kelsey Talbott gained valuable experience this season. “I think the experience of playing at the national tournament will help next year’s team big time,” Pryor said. Although this year’s team came up just short of its goal of winning a national championship, the Lady Tigers remarkable season will not be forgotten because of its loss in the title game. “This year’s team did amazing,” Pryor said. “They all liked each other, and got along on and off the court.”