Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 17, 2018

Wolves top Highland in thriller

Sep 01, 2017

WINFIELD — It doesn’t get much closer than Thursday night’s SEISC North game between Winfield-Mt. Union and Highland.

W-MU clawed back from a 2-1 deficit to win the match 3-2 in one of the tightest games of the year in southeast Iowa.

The Huskies were able to hold a steady lead throughout the first set. Aided by a strong serving game, the Huskies took the opener 25-18 to take a 1-0 lead.

W-MU bounced right back in set two. The Wolves exploded to an 8-1 lead to start the game and held off a late Highland rush to flip the script and tie the match up at one set apiece with a 25-19 victory.

Game three went down to bitter end. The two teams traded punches all game. Highland got out to a 17-11 advantage midway through the game but W-MU stormed back to eventually tie the game at 23-23.

Jenna Buffington gave the Wolves the lead with an ace to make it 24-23, but the Huskies gritted out three straight points to win the set 26-24. Highland’s Alison Stokes ended the third set with an ace of her own and all the momentum was back with the Huskies.

Much like the second set, W-MU built an early lead in the fourth. The Wolves jumped out to a 4-1 advantage in the set. Highland battled back and briefly had a 9-8 lead on a kill by Stokes, but the Wolves scored seven straight points to run a lead up to 15-9 and never looked back, taking the game 25-17.

It all came down to the fifth and final set, where the teams would split the first eight points to begin the game at a 4-4 tie. W-MU started to slowly pull away but the game still sat at 8-6 halfway through.

W-MU had just enough juice to escape witha home victory, however. The Wolves scored the next six points, aided by two more Buffington aces, to lead 14-6. The Huskies battled back with two points of their own but couldn’t stage a comeback as the Wolves scored the final point to win it 15-8.

“It was disappointing to not be able to finish off the third, but we put ourselves in a hole early,” W-MU head coach David Pieart said after the game. “I’m really proud of the comeback. We carried over that good play into the fourth game and into the fifth. Consistency is what we are working on and we’re getting closer.”

The young Wolves team was led by Buffington, one of a handful of promising freshman making their home debut. She had 14 kills on the day and went 23-25 on the serve with five aces.

Lexee Hartsock had eight kills in the win. Pearl Krieger-Coble had six. Liana Sweezer finished with five. Maci Richardson had four and Kyndal Townsley had one. Kreiger-Coble led the team with five blocks and Lauren Jamison had 27 assists.

Brylee Carolan and Bailey Harmston each had six kills for the Huskies. Murphy Beinhart had four kills. Stokes finished with three kills and six aces, and Sydney Black had three kills and 26 digs.

After the game, Highland co-coach Darcy Burton talked about the loss, saying her team needs to be able to shake off those late runs.

“When we got down, we just fell apart,” she said. “They can’t bring themselves out of the rut.”

The Wolves defeated Highland 2-1 in a tournament over the weekend, making it two tough losses for the Huskies to stomach in one week.

“When we played them the other day, we were tired,” Burton said. “We came more prepared to play today. It started off good and it just didn’t go our way.”

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