10-4-19Arnold and Witt.jpg

Daily Sun File photo/Ron Farmer

Deja Arnold (left) who leads the nation in hitting percentage and Emily Witt, who is No. 8 in the nation in assists per set, are two big reasons the Bulldogs are 18-0 and ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division I national poll.

Three up, three down.

That has become a way of life for Navarro’s volleyball team, whose motto should be “How Sweep it is.”

That was never more evident than Wednesday night in Athens, where the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs swept No. 10 Trinity Valley in one of the biggest matches of the year.

Andy Cavins’ unbeaten Dawgs took care of the Cardinals, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18 to improve to 18-0 for the season and 3-0 in the Region XIV conference race.

The Bulldogs have swept 16 opponents on their season-long winning streak, and took care of business Wednesday against  their biggest rival on the road.

The Bulldogs have just six matches left in the regular season, and the next four are at home.

They play rival Tyler next Wednesday at the Wolens SEC, which should be loud and filled with energy.

Navarro home volleyball games have become a must-see event, complete with a band that rocks the gym and a very vocal fan base that has loved the rise the program has made in recent years.

The Bulldogs made their first trip to the nationals a year ago, and seemed to be determined to get back to Hutchins, Kansas and the NJCAA tournament again.

Cavins, who took over the program this year, has done a remarkable job and his team has simply dominated the sport, and sits just behind undefeated Polk (Fla.), which is also unbeaten, in the nation.

There are a long list of reasons the Bulldogs are 18-0, starting with Cavins, who has lifted the program to new heights.

Deja Arnold is No. 1 in the nation in hitting percentage (.532) and Monica Wood is No. 4 (.487) as Navarro literally can make the statement that no team hits harder up front.

Arnold is also No. 6 in the nation in blocks per set (1.48) and Emily Witt is No. 8 in assists per set (10.57). Jordan Russell is No. 12 in the country in kills per set (.3.85).

Other leaders for the Bulldogs include libero Carla Boudal, who has 261 digs. Witt leads the team with 592 assists and Russell leads in kills with 204. Wood has 145 and Arnold has 138 as the Big 3 up front give Navarro as much firepower as anyone.

The format for conference play changed this season and instead of playing in a four-team Zone, where everyone played home-and-home matches against the other three teams, this year there’s a nine-team conference, which means teams play each other once instead of twice.

That means Navarro will not get to host TVCC this year and won’t see the Cardinals until the Region XIV Tournament that begins Nov. 1 in Tyler.

The Bulldogs have defeated some nationally-ranked teams already this season, but knocking off No. 10 TVCC was the team’s most important victory to date because it was a conference game, and because it starts a difficult four-game stretch against TVCC, Tyler, Panola and Blinn.

Tyler is an annual powerhouse, and Panola sits just outside the NJCAA’s national poll and is listed as others receiving votes. Blinn is ranked No. 16 in the nation.

The Bulldogs couldn’t have asked for a better start to this four-game stretch, and the next three will be at home. That’s how big Wednesday’s win at TVCC is to a program that is having its best year ever.

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