RURAL MIDDLE POINT — Lincolnview got off quickly in its non-conference volleyball matchup with St. John’s Monday night at the Lancerdome, winning the opening set 25-15.
The visitors then rallied to take the match in four sets, winning 25-22, 25-22, 25-18.
Leading the Lady Blue Jays (5-10) were senior Heather Vogt (13 blocks, 5 kills), senior libero Katrina Etzkorn (12 digs), senior Lauren Utrup (9 blocks), classmate Christie Carder (16 assists), senior Emily Horstman (4 aces) and classmate Bailie Hulihan (4 kills).
The Lady Lancers (4-8) were led by senior libero Whitney Miller (35 digs, 5 aces), senior Jodie Doner (14 kills), junior Ashley McClure (8 kills) and sophomore Devann Springer (8 kills).
The Lady Lancers did everything coach Heather Crow wanted in the opening set, serving well, digging and hitting well. On the other side of the net, the Blue Jays struggled to follow the game plan of coach Kellie Sterling. In the end, the Lancers got the 10-point win to take a 1-set lead.
“Our serve-receive in the first set was not quite there, to say the least. We couldn’t run an offense because of it,” Sterling said. “After that set, we picked it up. That allowed us to begin to get some hits at the net because we could get into a set and run our offense. Plus, we started getting more touches and blocks on their hits, which helped our defense and allowed us to transition into an offense.”
Crow was pleased with her team’s play the first set.
“That is the best we have played in quite a while. We played our game,” she asserted. “We serve-received well and got into our offense.”
The match tightened in the second set as both teams got more into the action. The Jays slowed down the hitting of the Lancers, especially on the serve-receive, and that allowed them to get it going. Still, it was nip-and-tuck the entire way. An ace by sophomore Baylee Neate tied the set at 22-all before a serving error gave the serve to Etzkorn. A stuff by Utrup and a hitting miscue by the hosts tied the match at a set each.
The third set followed its predecessor all the way. The biggest margin was four — 9-5, Lincolnview — on a kill by McClure. Back came the Lady Jays — on a Lancer missed serve and three mis-hits — to make it a back-and-forth affair. The biggest lead from then on was three — each team holding that margin once — as neither could get on that coveted run. The last one was by the Jays as they put the set away on a spike off the Lancer blockers by Hulihan to put the visitors up 2-sets-to-1.
The fourth set saw the Jays get off quickly and never trailed. They held their biggest lead of 10-3 on a bomb from Vogt. The hosts didn’t go away quietly and rallied within 16-15 on a hit off the Blue Jay blockers by Doner. A service error gave the Jays the momentum back and they rode that to the end, getting a hitting error on match point to secure the victory.
“We didn’t have a lot of errors, either in serving or hitting. We kept the balls in play and forced the opponent to move and make plays,” Sterling added. “We have been trying some different defenses that we think can help us and we did well with what we used tonight. We need to keep working and find what is best for us as we get near the tournament.”
Crow lamented her team’s errors in the final three sets.
“One, we missed 17 serves; that is not us. We really weren’t going for a lot, either, so that was unusual,” Crow added. “We were emotionally ready but perhaps we lost some focus on our serves; we needed to slow down and take a deep breath. As well, St. John’s played well in those sets. They got their hands on a lot of our hits.”
The St. John’s junior varsity (7-4) downed the Lancers 26-24, 25-18.
St. John’s hosts New Bremen 5:30 p.m. (JV matchup) Thursday, while Lincolnview visits Ada (6 p.m.).