Good-time Jeeps get serious in finishing sweep

By JOSEPH FANELLI
Herald Sports Writer

DUBOIS — One series during Tuesday’s volleyball matchup between Northeast Dubois and Forest Park — a five-person Jeep mosh pit of confusion and missed hits that ended with the ball landing at the feet of a befuddled Talia Terwiske — may have best captured the home team.

Johnson

But it wasn’t the blunder as much as the subsequent reaction: seven girls and two coaches smiling and guffawing at their own silliness.

The play proved to be just one of a few miscues on the night for Northeast Dubois as it smiled all the way to a 25-18, 25-14, 25-22 victory over Forest Park, the Jeeps’ second consecutive three-set sweep.

The laughs came early and often as Northeast Dubois (6-5) cruised to a quick two-set lead with strong play above the net from Kendra Jacob, who recorded 15 kills. Emily Lueken added eight from other side of the court and also led the team with 15 digs. Terwiske quarterbacked the frontline, dishing out 26 assists on the night in between fits of laughter, and Chloe Johnson, the smiling patient zero of sorts, added 11 digs and two kills.

“I just think that whenever we play well, we also have more fun, and if we’re relaxed and laughing, it seems like we do better,” Johnson said. “And I always try to keep a positive attitude and I’m the most positive whenever I’m laughing.”

That was most evident in set two, where there wasn’t a series that didn’t end with all six players cracking smiles to one another. An outside observer might confuse Northeast Dubois’ playfulness with a lack of focus, but coach Stephanie Schepers sees stability. She said she understands her team’s tendency to at times overthink aspects of the game, citing Jacob and Lueken as two players who can become distracted by small mistakes. Her job is to keep the team calm, and that usually means letting the girls be themselves.

“Once they start tensing up, feelings towards each other start to get tense and then that’s never good for anybody,” Schepers said. “So keeping them calm is 100 percent my job right now.

“The more I ride them, the more they panic and the more we make mistakes. If we just keep our calm and keep it relaxed, it’s a better situation. ... Yelling at them and screaming at them doesn’t work. I have to turn it around and make it some sort of fun for them, and they do it on their own.”
As far as what the laughing is about, your guess is as good as Schepers’.

“I have no idea,” she said. “I don’t know half the time. I don’t ask.”

The fun faded quickly though in the third set when the Jeeps were suddenly threatened by a revamped Ranger offense. Forest Park came out swinging in the third set behind the play of Lydia Lange, who finished with 11 kills and 13 digs — both team-highs — and paced the Rangers to an 18-12 margin. But after a timeout by Schepers and a re-emphasis on passing, the Jeeps clawed to within striking distance with strong play at the net and a couple great saves by libero Jenna Stemle, one a lunging off-balance dink over the net after two Jeeps missed hits. Eventually, Northeast Dubois tied the game at 22 and sealed the win three straight points later.

“(Forest Park’s offense) really stepped it up in the third game because we weren’t passing and they were hitting,” Schepers said. “Once we started getting our passes again, we were able to hit and that created a whole new ballgame.”

Other players, though, had a slightly different explanation to the team’s slow start in the third set.
“We have this thing called a three-game curse,” Terwiske said. “The third game we never play as well as we do. We’re really happy when we win in three games because it doesn’t happen very often.”

For the Rangers (5-6), the last set displayed a team capable of producing big points after two underwhelming sets, especially the second when errors on returns and an inability to stop the Jeep offense left Forest Park reeling.

“(We) had more energy on the floor (in the third set),” Ranger coach Jamie Giesler said. “We struggled in the first two sets getting on the floor, getting anything that was thrown over to us. (We) moved really well, and I think the big difference in the third game was they did move their feet real well and were excited.

“All around I know it wasn’t the team that we’re capable of (being), and they know that too. And that’s just what kind of upsets you a little bit.”

Chloe Dilger and Anna Hagedorn finished with 12 and 10 digs, respectively, for the Rangers and Adria Giesler recorded 17 assists along with two aces.

For the Jeeps, the sweep ensures some additional rest before facing three Blue Chip Conference opponents in the next five matches. And as long as the team keeps winning, expect the laughs to continue as well — although even a defeat may not quite calm them down, either.

“We laugh when we lose, too,” Terwiske said with a smile.

Contact Joseph Fanelli at jfanelli@dcherald.com




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