College of Southern Idaho Golden Eagles win National Junior College Championship

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Braiden Johnston

Braiden Johnston has always set high goals.
   As the libero for the 2010 and 2011 Crook County High School volleyball teams, she dreamed of one day playing volleyball in the Pac 12.
   When things didn’t work out to immediately play at that level, Johnston enrolled at College of Southern Idaho, which is located in Twin Falls, Idaho. Once there, Johnston played as a defensive specialist on the volleyball team.
   “You know that school was never my plan, but it ended up being an experience that I will remember the rest of my life,” Johnston said recently.
   College of Southern Idaho has a history of volleyball excellence, but Johnston was not expecting the kind of season that the team had.
   The Golden Eagles finished the year with a 39-1 record, including winning their final 29 matches of the year. The team went undefeated in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, earning the right to host the Junior College Athletic Association Region 18 Championships. College of Southern Idaho defeated Snow College and North Idaho College in the tournament to earn a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Championships which were held in West Plains Mo. in mid-November.
   Once at the national tournament, the team whipped Hillsborough Community College 3-0, then slipped past Faulkner State and San Jacinto College 3-1 to earn a berth in the national championships against Western Nebraska Community College. College of Southern Idaho went on to sweep Western Nebraska 3-0 to win their 10th volleyball national championship.
   “I thought it was really awesome,” Johnston said. “I really had to work hard and work for my spot. I’ve never been pushed like that before. They are an amazing group of girls and an amazing team.”
   Johnston played in 48 of the 112 sets the team played this year, including two of the three sets in the championships.
   She finished the season with 100 digs, 85 service receptions with just seven errors and served 159 times with just 11 errors, a .931 service percentage.
   Johnston and the team have already set the goal winning back-to-back national championships.
   “That’s always the plan, but we will see what happens,” she said. “We are going to have to work hard again, but it’s fun and it pushes me to be a better player.”
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