Dig Pink Volleyball Match

Dig Pink Volleyball Match: Cameron Aggies v. Northwestern Rangers

by Kimb Frey

At 6 p.m., Oct. 15, in the Aggie Gym, the Cameron Aggies faced-off against Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s (NWOSU) Rangers, who grabbed the win at 3-0.

The match was Cameron’s annual Dig Pink Volleyball match in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Leading up to the Tuesday match, the Aggies had a Dig Pink jersey, signed by team members, up for auction to raise funds for Comanche County Memorial Hospital’s (CCMH) Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center. Fans could bid on the jersey until the second set of the match with the highest bidder announced in the third set.

Fans could also buy pink “Just Cure It” t-shirts to support the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s (SAAC) fundraiser before and during the match. The proceeds also went to CCMH’s Cancer Center. The SAAC campaign, along with the Aggies in their pink jerseys, created a sea of pink in the gymnasium.

The Rangers served the opening of the first set, and the match began with the Aggies taking the first point — a kill by outside hitter Health Sciences Sophomore Sarah Wright.

Cameron kept the lead in the first half of the set with two three-point runs and some back and forth scoring, bringing the score to 15-12 Cameron. The Rangers then went on an eight-point spree, during which the Aggies scored twice.

The end of the set saw both teams pushing hard with runs of three and four points by each team. The Rangers took the set with 25 points.

Cameron head coach Brandon Stephenson said the team came into the match with a game plan and tried to execute a high tempo of game play.

“We don’t want to do so much, so early, that we lose it all,” Stephenson said.

NWOSU took the first point of the second set, but the Aggies didn’t let that stand for long, scoring three points in rapid succession — two kills by Wright and outside hitter Sophomore Math Major Walia Franklin respectively and an attack error by the Rangers.

Cameron kept their momentum through the 6-4-point mark in the set, but the Rangers leaped into the lead with a ten-point run, during which the Aggies scored once. The Aggies then earned three kills in succession, with setter Junior Sports and Exercise Science (SES) Major Katharine Manning setting up Wright, setter Business Management Sophomore Kristen Evens and outside hitter Communications Sophomore Shantalle Demirjian for their attacks.

Cameron had another run of three points, but the Rangers won the second set 25-14.

During the match intermission, Cameron’s SAAC President, Business and Political Science Senior Jordan Lewis, recognized two breast cancer survivors, Brittany Smith and Shelia Wright, and talked about SAAC’s social media and t-shirt campaign.

Cameron Men’s Basketball head coach Andrew Brown helped with t-shirt sales and said the purpose of the intermission presentation was to put faces to the cause.

“We were basically recognizing breast cancer survivors in our area,” Brown said, “and the profits for these t-shirts that we’ve been selling are going directly to the Breast Cancer Center.”

After the brief intermission, set three began with the Rangers ceding a point to the Aggies through a service error; the ball did not make it over the net during the serve. The Rangers dominated the set, though, with a series of five-, three- and two-point runs to the Aggies singles.

Stephenson called a timeout and gathered his team.

Manning said timeouts are less about the coach pointing out what is going wrong and more about strategy.

“If I made a mistake, I know what I need to do to fix it,” Manning said. “I think he calls timeouts really strategically. And I think he calls them in perfect timing. Most of the time, you need a timeout to really regroup and really refocus.”

After the timeout setter and SES Junior Desiree Marmolejo immediately set up middle blocker and Biology Freshman Riana Blount for a kill.

Later in the set, Cameron made a four-point run, which brought the score to 17-10 Rangers. But the Aggies couldn’t close the gap quickly enough and ended the set trailing by ten points. The Rangers won the game three sets to zero.

Manning said the game came down to the Aggies’ mental game.

“It got to a point where, once you let a team start making small runs,” Manning said, “it can kind of get into the other team’s head — like, ‘Oh! Gosh! Okay, they’re getting on a run. They’re getting the lead.’ So that can be kind of stressful. And I think that with the amount of errors that we made throughout the game, points just started to stack up for them. And as points start stacking up, and the bigger the lead that they get, the more in your head, the more mental side of the game starts to show.”

The Aggies next headed to Texas for away games on Oct. 18 and 19 against Texas A&M’s Kingsville and International teams.

For more information, go to CameronAggies.com.

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