ROSWELL, N.M. - Opening Day 2014 will be a memorable one for the No. 19-ranked Hutchinson Community College volleyball team.
Facing a pair of nationally ranked teams to open the seventh annual New Mexico Military Classic, the Blue Dragons won a pair of five-set matches on Friday after not accomplishing that in all of 2013.
Hutchinson opened the season Friday morning with a 25-18, 21-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-7 victory over No. 14 Odessa College. The Blue Dragons then rallied from a set down and two fifth-set match points against to knock off host New Mexico Military 25-19, 20-25, 22-25, 25-19, 19-17.
The Blue Dragons will play Yavapai College at 10 a.m. CT and South Mountain at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday to close out the tournament.
Odessa victory snapped a seven-match losing stream for Hutchinson in five-set matches that dated back to the 2012 NJCAA Tournament. The 2013 Blue Dragons were 0-6 in five-set matches and 27-6 in remaining matches. The victory over Odessa avenged a 2012 NMMI Classic five-set loss where HCC dropped the fifth set 15-13. Sophomore middle hitter Nicole Kinser had 14 kills in the opening match against Odessa. HCC had to overcome opening-day jitters. In a second-set loss, 10 of Odessa's first 15 points of the set came on Blue Dragon errors.
Tied at a set each against New Mexico Military, HCC trailed the third 18-10, but rallied to pull within 20-19 before NMMI pulled out the win for a 2-1 match lead. In the fourth set, freshman Jai Chapman started to come to life. Tied at 14-all, HCC grabbed the lead on a Chapman kill and Tarynn Stueder service ace. The Blue Dragons pulled away from there, getting back-to-back Chapman kills to force a decisive fifth set.
New Mexico Military led the fifth set 5-2. HCC scored three in a row, tying the set at 5-all on an Anna Proffitt kill. Leading 12-11, freshman Aubrey Wilson had a kill for a 13-11 Dragon lead. A Chapman kill gave HCC the first of two match points. Trailing 16-15, Kinser dropped a well-placed tip to fight off the first match point against. Chapman saved the second match point with a big cross-court kill to tie the set at 17-all. Sophomore Lauren Darby pounded down a kill and Kinser ended the match with a stuff block.
Chapman had four kills in the fifth set while Darby and Proffitt had two kills each and Wilson had a kill and block in the final set.
For the match, Darby had 15 kills while Chapman and Kinser had 12 kills each. HCC won the match despite nine service errors.
Full and official stats weren't available on Friday night.