WNCC Sports Information -
Leyton's Katy Ernest is going from one winning program to another after committing to play volleyball for Western Nebraska Community College for the next two seasons.
Ernest said there was little doubt after hearing that WNCC coach Giovana Melo was leaving for Division I Cal State-Bakersfield, but after playing and getting to know the girls, she definitely wanted to be a part of the successful Cougar volleyball team.
In other words, Ernest is confident that the WNCC program will continue its winning ways under a new head coach, who will inherit a freshmen group that is loaded with talent.
"It did but since I felt at home with all the girls and if they decided to stay, I would be comfortable, too," she said. "When I visited I really felt like home. It was comfortable being with the girls and I really enjoyed it.
Ernest comes to WNCC with hopes of moving on to the next level. In fact, she wouldn't mind following in the footsteps of another local player, Gering's Morgan Broussard, who spent two years at WNCC and is now headed to the Division I level to play for the University of Texas San Antonio.
"I think it is every athlete's goal to play for a Division I school and the fact that she started here at WNCC is a good accomplishment," Ernest said. "I think if I did the same as what she did, I would be honored."
WNCC coach Giovana Melo sees Ernest as someone that can make an impact in her two years at WNCC just like Broussard.
"I think she has the work ethic and athletic ability to be really successful here," Melo said. "We had one local setter that was really successful and is an example of what could happen and that is my same mentality with Katy going in. I think she has the same ability to work hard and be the same successful setter as Morgan."
Leyton coach Jodi Craig said it has been an honor to watch Ernest mature on the volleyball court.
"She has been a lifesaver for us," Craig said. "She has started her sophomore, junior and senior year and her maturity from her sophomore to senior year was just amazing. She definitely shows strong leadership skills on the court. She knows where everybody is supposed to be. She has a very positive leadership and I am glad to have the opportunity to have coached a great athlete."
Ernest brings a lot of leadership to the Cougar team having been Leyton's top setter for the past three seasons, where they have made three straight trips to the state tournament. Last season, the Warriors finished with a 30-3 record before falling to Giltner in three games at the state tournament. Giltner went on to win the Class D-2 state title.
Ernest had quite a season last year. In the state tournament match, Ernest finished with 21 set assists. During her senior season, Ernest had 642 set assists with 77 kills, 55 blocks, 87 ace serves, and 173 digs.
During her four-year high school career, Ernest played in 255 sets with an assist per game average of 7.0. She finished with 1,789 set assists, 205 aces, 479 digs, and 170 kills.
In the off season, Ernest played club volleyball for the Northeastern Volleyball Club, but it was WNCC that that she was eyeing all along to play volleyball for.
Ernest also was in contact with Adams State, Benedictine College in Kansas, and Hastings College. She said she is ready to step up to the faster-paced game.
"I have to work on my quicker offense and my defense and I just need to step up everything to that level," she said. "The first time I played with them [during my visit] it was pretty quick, but I think playing club got my mind to work quicker so I can run those quick offenses."
After two years here, Ernest will see if volleyball is in her future. For now, Ernest is focused on keeping the Cougar volleyball tradition alive.
"There is a lot of pressure, especially since Gi is leaving for us to continue that winning streak," she said. "But I think they will hire someone that will do the job."