There is a target that comes attached with being the No. 1 team in the nation. For the Cowley College volleyball team the past five seasons, that’s just considered life as they know it.
“We have a tradition of being succesful,” Cowley coach Jennifer Bahner said. “And that helps at a junior college, because we’re constantly recruiting, constantly filling positions.”
In her fifth season, Bahner has the Tigers atop the NJCAA Division II rankings once again as they take a 14-0 record into Wednesday’s match at No. 17 Butler (11-4, 2-1 Jayhawk). Under Bahner, Cowley won the NJCAA Division II title in 2011, finished second in 2009 and 2012, and third in 2010. They’ve also been ranked No. 1 at some point in each of the past four seasons and all of this season.
“Our sophomore class has been big for us so far and our freshmen are coming along nicely,” Bahner said. “B.J. Specht has been phenomenal, she’s doing a great job hitting and scoring lots of points.”
Specht, a sophomore outside hitter from Shawnee, has been named Jayhawk Conference player two of the four weeks this season, including this week after averaging 4.14 kills per set in wins over Independence and Longview.
Senthavy scored her team-leading fourth goal against Northwestern – eclipsing her total from her first two seasons combined – and has scored in all three games.
According to Newman coach Victor Garcia-Bebek, Senthavy’s approach changed drastically in the offseason.
“We had a talk in the spring and I told her she had the potential to be an all-conference player, but that it was going to have to start with her,” Garcia-Bebek said. “And then, we start camp, and she comes in fit. She comes ready to play, in top shape and with a great attitude.
“I think another thing that shows how far she’s come is that her teammates elected her captain. That’s a big deal.”
Newman returns to action on Sunday at Washburn.
But it’s the final three games, against No. 6 Missouri Western, No. 3 Northwest Missouri State and No. 22 Washburn that will determine Emporia State’s season. Last year, the Hornets had the same schedule before being blown out by Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri.