Gream: Tigers truly played ‘With Each Other, For Each Other’ en route to perfect season, national title


From RAMA PEROO/Cowley College

In a battle of the top two teams at the national tournament, the top-seeded Cowley College volleyball team defeated second-seeded Scottsdale (AZ) Community College 25-9, 23-25, 25-18, 18-25, 18-16 in the title game of the NJCAA Division II Volleyball National Championships played Saturday in Cedar Rapids, IA.

After losing to Scottsdale in last year’s national tournament, the Tigers had revenge on their mind. Cowley came out on fire, winning set one 25-9. However, the Artichokes came back to win set two 25-23.

Cowley righted the ship and took set three by a score of 25-18. Once again, Scottsdale answered, forcing a fifth set with a 25-18 win of set four.

The Lady Tigers would have set point on three occasions in the fifth and final set before claiming the national title with an 18-16 win in set five.

Cowley was in a similar situation during the 2021 season as the Lady Tigers advanced to the national title match with a record of 41-0 before losing. This time, they finished the job, winning in five sets and finishing a perfect 41-0 on the season.

Scottsdale finishes the season with a record of 28-1.

The win against Scottsdale gives Cowley its first-ever unbeaten season in the program’s history. It was also the Lady Tigers’ first national championship since 2013 and third overall.

Cowley dropped only five sets all season. The sophomores won 82 games, captured two district titles, and now have a national title in their two years at the school.

THE WINNING MOMENT: Cowley College women’s volleyball team celebrates after winning the NJCAA Div. II national title match Saturday at the national tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. More photos from Cowley’s championship-winning night in Iowa can be viewed here. (Photo courtesy Cowley College)

“I could not be more proud of this team,’ Cowley head coach Steve Gream said. “We had three solid sophomores who returned in key positions – Sadie Kabisch at libero, Anna Kiss at outside hitter, and Rossana Papa at setter… but we also had 11 freshmen who bought into our system, grew throughout the season and never played like normal freshmen. This team has great chemistry and just loves each other and playing for each other. They truly lived up to our motto of ‘With Each Other, For Each Other’. That was the secret to our success and the leadership of our sophomores.”

Cowley’s Rosanna Papa was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The nation’s assist leader earned 52 assists in the championship game.

“Words cannot express how proud I am of her,” Gream said. “Coming back from a serious injury and doing the things she did this year, not only with her volleyball skills but her leadership in mentoring our young team. The players wanted to win, but they really wanted to win for Rossana, and it showed.”

Sara Puskas had a match-high 22 kills, and Anna Kiss added 20.

“Anna Kiss had a great freshmen season but put in the work all spring and enhanced her game to play at a high level,” Gream said. “She was a big reason our offense was clicking… she knew our system, had the experience from last year, and was determined to excel this season. She did an excellent job mentoring our hitters and getting them used to our speed and offensive philosophy.”

Laura Bonomi added a double-double with 15 kills and 15 digs, and sophomore Sadie Kabisch had a match-high 36 digs.

“Sadie Kabisch took over the captain of our defense at the libero spot. She knew in the spring that she needed to work on things to enhance her game, and she put in the work to do so,” Gream said. “Her ability to read and get to balls this year was nothing short of amazing to where she single-handedly stopped offenses in their tracks by shutting down their attack and leading our back row defense to do the same.”

Coach Gream was named the Coach of the Tournament, and he and his team were greeted with a hero’s welcome inside W.S. Scott Auditorium upon their return to Ark City on Sunday.

“We would like to thank the Cowley Community for all of their support of our program this year… you were our 7th man on the court with your love, support, and energy,” Gream said.

From Saturday:

The Cowley College women’s volleyball team are NJCAA DII national champions and finished the season undefeated 41-0.

According to Cowley Sports Net Saturday night, the No. 1 Tigers defeated No. 2 Scottsdale 3-2 (25-9, 23-25, 25-18, 18-25, 18-16) in Cedar Rapids, IA.

It’s the third national championship in Cowley’s history.