Jefferson came out on fire in the first set Tuesday night versus Allen East, especially junior Katelyn Goergens, who puts this hit off Mustang senior Katrina Wireman. However, the Mustangs rallied to win in 4.
DELPHOS — The first shot that a volleyball team can control is the serve.
That ended up being a struggle for Jefferson Tuesday night versus Allen East as the Wildcats committed 19 missed serves en route to falling 20-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23 in Northwest Conference activity at Jefferson High School.
“For some reason, we struggled with it tonight; I think once we had a few, it was in our heads,” Jefferson coach Joy Early explained. “We didn’t talk about going for a lot and being aggressive before the match and I don’t feel we were trying too hard to make something happen. We lost the match by seven points (12 over the final 3 sets) and we had 19 mistakes; there’s your match.”
The Wildcats (7-10, 2-5 NWC) committed six missed serves in the opener but managed to overcome that deficit with solid play from junior Katelyn Goergens (13 kills, 6 digs, 2 block-stuffs) and classmate Rileigh Stockwell 8 kills). It was give-and-take the entire way. The Red and White had the best span — an 8-3 spurt capped by two aces from junior libero Kamie Pulford (4 aces out of a team total of 8, 5 digs) — to go up 20-14. The Lady Mustangs couldn’t overcome that deficit and a stuff by Stockwell on set point put the hosts up 1-0.
“We have struggled with confidence at times this year; I think that’s what happened the first set,” Allen East coach Penny Sanderson began. “Katrina (Wireman) has been a steadying influence for us; she gets her share of kills and gets a lot of touches at the net, especially on our opponent’s hits. She maybe doesn’t dominate but she’s steady.”
The Mustangs started quickly in the second set — 3-0 on a stuff and a kill by the senior Wireman (7 kills, 8 full blocks) and a kill by junior Kaycee Rowe (7 kills, 4 aces). The hosts could never recover from that as they never led. The Mustangs used a variety of hitters at the net to keep their distance from the hosts, leading 11-5 and 17-11 at later points. Try as they might, sub-par serving (5 missed in the set) was the Lady ’Cats’ downfall and a closing 5-0 spurt — capped by a hitting error on set point — tied the match at 1-1.
A hitting error and three consecutive aces from Rowe got Allen East (11-6, 4-3 NWC) off well in the third set but the Wildcats would have none of it. They fought back behind Goergens to take a 10-9 edge on a stuff from senior Fallon Van Dyke. However, junior Madison Winegarder (10 assists) won a joust over the net to jump-start a killer 7-0 span for the Mustangs — with the 6-0 Wireman leading the way — that put the visitors up 16-10 on a missed hit. Though the Wildcats didn’t go away, battling within a point several times (the last at 23-22 on an Allen East mis-hit). However, a stuff from Wireman and an ace by Rowe put the guests up 2-1.
The fourth set saw Jefferson having the best of things most of the way with leads of 13-8, 16-11 and 18-13 — the third on a kill by Van Dyke. A hit off the defense by Mustang senior Morgan Truex (8 kills, 11 digs) kicked off a final rally. They took the lead at 23-21 and then traded points the rest of the way, getting the final Delphos serving error to close out the match.
Sophomore Brooke Culp led the hosts with 17 assists, while senior Melissa Hefner had 15 digs for the Mustangs.
“The one thing we did focus on and stress before the match was being intense the entire match and playing with emotion. I felt we did that the whole way,” Early added. “That is an area we have been working on and talking about a lot, playing every point with effort and emotion. When we play with both, we do very well. Where we seem to hit a lull for about six points every set is communication and you can see it in our play. Again, when we talk, we play well; when we don’t, our play suffers.”
Sanderson figured the rally was a matter of getting more cohesion.
“I had a senior setter quit and had to use two players that have never set before this year; we’re a little bit inconsistent because of it but working through it,” she added. “Kaycee was my middle hitter since her freshman year and now is one of our setters, so we had to make that adjustment midway through this season.”
Allen East won the junior varsity match in two sets.
Both units return to NWC action 6 p.m. (JV starts) Thursday: Jefferson at Bluffton and Allen East home to LCC.