Cobra's ready to take their best shot

 

Listen to this article

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Parkland volleyball was well aware of which two opponents would likely be awaiting the Cobras in the business end of this weekend's national tournament.

Johnson County and defending champion Coffeyville, both from Kansas. But, first the Cobras had to win two matches.

Mission accomplished.

Second-seeded Parkland swept Northern Virginia (25-8, 25-11, 25-7) and Grand Rapids (25-14, 25-18, 25-19) on Thursday to reach today's 4:30 p.m. semifinal of the NJCAA Division II tournament.

Now, the Cobras (55-2) receive a rematch against Johnson County (29-7) with a spot in Saturday's national title match on the line. The Cavaliers beat Parkland 3-1 earlier this season in Kirkwood, Iowa.

Entering the tournament "the only trick we had was to keep them focused on the present," Parkland coach Cliff Hastings said. "They are so ready and motivated for a rematch" against Johnson County.

Ryleigh Warfel is a big reason why the Cobras are among the last four teams standing.

The Tri-Valley product posted 15 kills in each of Parkland's wins on Thursday. Count Warfel among the players who have improved their game significantly since the Cobras' first meeting against the Cavaliers on Sept. 7.

"The last three weeks in practice we have been so focused on her, in terms of giving her confidence," Hastings said of the 5-foot-10 freshman outside hitter. "She is such a perfectionist. She now has a sense of calmness that allows her to play at such a high level."

Sports Copy Editor

Joe Vozzelli Jr. is a sports copy editor at The News-Gazette. His email is jvozzelli@news-gazette.com.