For the 19th straight season, the Genesee Community College volleyball team is the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region III Division II champion. The Cougars took down Mercyhurst North East on Tuesday night and broke a 12-year-old school record in the process.
Strong serving by Nohema Garcia Torres paced the four-set match for Genesee. Her serving was so strong, in fact, that she set the single match record for most service aces in GCC history. The sophomore recorded 14 aces on the night, which broke the previous record of 13 which was held by Karen Bakos (set in 1992).
The Cougars fell behind early in set one, but fought back and took an 11-7 lead after a stretch of 7 out of 11 points won. Tied at 20, GCC was able to hold off MNE and took the opening set, 25-23.
Genesee fell behind again in the second set and faced a 6-1 Saints lead early on. Back to within 9-6, Garcia Torres led the charge back for the Cougars, serving to eight consecutive points which included two aces. GCC pulled away and took the second set, 25-16.
Mercyhurst N.E. took the first lead in the third set and held a lead as high as five at 18-13. Garcia Torres then rattled off five straight service aces and was on serve for seven consecutive points to put the Cougars in front by two. Despite giving up the lead, the Saints responded and won the third set 25-23.
In the deciding game, GCC was out to a 4-2 lead before falling behind 5-4. The Cougars came right back to take a 6-5 lead and did not look back. Genesee led by as much as five on a number of occasions throughout the rest of the set and claimed its 19 straight title with a 25-16 win in set four.
Miyazaki was named the Region III Division II Player of the Year and Yu Shimizu, Toledo and Garcia Torres were named to the All-Tournament team for Genesee. GCC interim head coach Jamie Hugelmaier earned Region III Division II Coach of the Year honors.
Genesee (21-17) will now move on to compete in the Western New York Athletic Conference (WNYAC) tournament which will be held at Mercyhurst North East on Saturday. The Cougars will then host a NJCAA Districts tournament on a day and time to be announced. Their opponent has yet to be determined.