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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

Golden Hawks open season with championship

Keota 3rd, Highland eliminated in volleyball tourney
Aug 21, 2018
Photo by: Doug Brenneman Mid-Prairie’s Caitlyn Riggan leaps for an attack.

By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports


KEOTA -- Mid-Prairie got the high school volleyball season started in style Monday.

The Golden Hawks triumphed in three matches to win the Keota tournament title.

The host Eagles finished third in the six-team tournament.

Mid-Prairie defeated English Valleys in the title match, 2-0 with scores of 25-9 and 25-16.

“Everybody supported everybody,” MP head coach Cindy Miller said. “Our blocking, our hitting, it was all working at the end. We were talking and it was just good to see that what we have been working on came through for us at the end.”

The Golden Hawks got to the title match with a 2-0 win over Keota, 21-17 and 21-14. Mid-Prairie battled Highland for its second win, 2-1. The Golden Hawks won the opening set 21-13, but dropped the second 22-20, then edged the Huskies 15-12.

Keota won the third-place match over Lone Tree with a stunning comeback in the first set for a 27-25 win and cruised in the second set 25-16.

“It feels good to get that win,” Keota head coach Teresa Ahlberg said. “We haven’t placed in this tournament for quite a while, so it was a big win. We have a 2-1 record right now so that gives us a winning season so far. Now we just have to keep it up.”

English Valleys got to the title match with two 2-0 wins. The Lady Bears downed Tri-County 25-8, 25-17 and swept Lone Tree 25-12, 25-8.

Lone Tree got to the third-place match by rallying past Tri-County. The Lions lost 25-19 in the first set, but took the second 25-15. The deciding set went 15-7 in Lone Tree’s favor.

Keota eked out a win against Highland, clipping the Huskies 21-18, 23-21.

There was a mix-up in the way the games were scored. In one gym, sets were played to 25 while in the other gym, 21 was the winning score in the opening rounds. The title match was then played to sets of 25.

Mid-Prairie and Keota started the night off and Cassidy Herschberger’s ace was the first point for the Golden Hawks, who led throughout the first set but never by more than five points.

“We really started off flat,” Miller said. “Everything we have been practicing this season has been about high energy and working together and I guess it just took a few matches to get to that.”

Keota had rallied from a 12-8 deficit to tie it at 14 on a kill by Brianna Duwa. Myah Lugar’s kill got the lead again for MP and a Tori Boyse spike made it 19-15.

The second set saw Keota grab its first lead of the night at 4-3 on Aaliyah Heldman’s ace. Addison Sprouse’s ace gave Keota a 9-8 lead. A Jillian Schulte block helped Keota get within 11-10. Jolee Walker’s kill was the last Keota lead at 12-11.

The set was tied 10 times, the last at 12-12, but the Golden Hawks went on a 9-2 run to finish it.

“We were not communicating and our serve receive was not there,” Ahlberg said.

Abbi Patterson’s ace gave MP a 14-12 lead and kills by Lugar gave MP its 16th, 19th and game-winning points. Makensie Rich and Lugar each had five kills. Herschberger had nine digs and three aces. Boyse had three blocks.

Against Highland, the Golden Hawks flew through the first set, but the more the Huskies played, the better they played.

Highland got warmed up in the close losses to Keota and peaked in the second set against MP.

“I think the set that we won was how we have been playing at practice,” said Highland head coach Whitney Howard. “I have asked a lot of the girls. I have changed a lot of things on them, like defense and serve receive, but I think we need to work on our hitting. We have to go out and get that ball. We have got to get the arm on top of the ball. Because I have asked a lot of them the last two weeks, I think if we get to doing those things, we will be all right. We will be the team that played that one set that we won. We are doing good things in practice and the girls are working hard. I think it is frustrating for the girls to think about things that I have changed on them in the middle of the game. As we go on through the season and those things become habit, we will be doing good.”

Aly Stokes and Kristy Thomann led the Huskies in kills with seven each in the two matches combined. Kylie Wood put up eight assists.

Rich smashed a kill to end the match against the Huskies.

“They had to work so hard in that Highland match that I think that transferred some momentum to the English Valleys match,” Miller said. “At the end of the Highland match, Tori and Caitlyn (Riggan) acted on a quick and we ended with Makenzie on the slide and those were things that gave us some momentum. It was fun to see that.”

The momentum provided leads of 11-3 and 14-5 in the first set of the championship match. The Golden hawks got out to a 19-9 lead in the second set but an English Valleys timeout slowed the Hawks. Each team scored seven points after that, but it was enough for a title.

Rich had six kills and Lugar five while Hershberger had seven digs. Lugar landed three aces.

“We needed to put into motion what we were working on at practice and we did,” Miller said. “I’m glad it’s over because we got past the first-game jitters. We missed quite a few serves, more than I would like. I think that was from the jitters. I have been trying to figure out a rotation. We have five I’m sure of and I think I figured out the sixth. We will see where we go from here.”

Keota sprinted out to leads of 6-0 and 11-3 in the first set against Highland. The Huskies went on a run to get within 11-8, but the Eagles stretched it to 19-13 and hung on for the win.

Highland led 6-1 in the second set but Keota rallied to tie it at 12. it was tied again at 16, 19, 20 and 21 before Highland hitting errors resulted in the Eagles’ win.

“We improved and things went much easier (against Highland) because we were talking and communicating,” Ahlberg said. “In the first match, I think it was a combination of being a Monday and the first game of the year, they were not ready.”

When the Eagles struggled against Highland, Ahlberg called timeouts at the right times.

“I called the timeouts because they were down on themselves and they had no confidence,” Ahlberg said. “So in the timeouts, I tried to say some witty things and use some humor and get their spirits up again and it seemed to work. It was very nerve-racking when that went extra, but it showed me something about my team to pull out a win in that situation.”

The Eagles showed something in the first set of the third-place match with the big rally.

“We got on serve and Jolee Walker had eight points in a row,” Ahlberg said. “She is the strongest server we have and she made a difference.”

Addison Sprouse had 12 digs on the night for Keota. Addison Swanson had 12 kills. Jillian Schulte put up 14 assists and put down 10 aces in the three matches.

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