Cats fall to Reitz in sectional championship

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Jasper volleyball players and coaches celebrate after scoring a point in the first set of Saturday evening’s sectional championship against Evansville Reitz in Jasper. The Panthers earned a 25-20, 25-16, 25-16 victory over the Wildcats.

By JIMMY LAFAKIS
jlafakis@dcherald.com

JASPER —  After enduring a five-set match against Evansville North on Saturday afternoon, Jasper (14-17) engaged in a hard-fought contest with Evansville Reitz in the Sectional 16 championship. The Panthers seized a 3-0 win by set scores of 25-20, 25-16, 25-16, but the Wildcats made their presence felt throughout the evening. 

“There’s always a lot of hype, energy and enthusiasm coming into the first game,” Jasper head coach Jennifer Hohl said. “I think our girls came out with a lot of energy. We had a few mistakes early on, but I thought we fought really well to get out of some of the holes we dug ourselves into.” 

The Wildcats earned the first two points of the game, but Reitz’s heavy hitters brought the score to 11-4 in the Panthers’ favor. 

A Jasper timeout reversed the momentum, however. The Wildcats forced a 14-14 tie and breathed new life into the gymnasium. When the Panthers called a timeout, Jasper’s enthusiastic student section hollered in delight. 

“It’s always great whenever the kids come out and support one another in each of the sports,” Hohl said. “It’s always great to get the community’s support during this time. I think it was a good showing for everybody.” 

Reitz rebounded and clinched the set after taking a 21-15 lead. Jasper claimed an early 5-2 advantage in the second set, but the Panthers tied the score at 5-5. 

Working in its system, Reitz’s front line pressured the net. Although the aggressive style was effective in spurts, Jasper junior middle blocker Izzy Hopf tallied two total blocks.  

The final stages of the second and third sets displayed a common motif —  the Panthers rising to the challenge in crunch time. Although Reitz sealed the match, Hohl underscored the Wildcats’ development throughout their campaign. 

“From the beginning of the season until now, we saw huge improvements from everybody,” she said. “From the people who started on the bench to the girls on the court, I think everybody worked really hard throughout the season. They made improvements through everything that we asked them to do.”  

Jasper recorded a total of 54 team digs. Three Wildcats finished with double-digit dig totals —  junior libero Jayden Pfister racked up a team-high 13 digs, senior outside hitter Kayla Fuhs added 12 digs and sophomore setter Libby Mehringer chipped in with 10 digs. 

Fuhs led Jasper with three aces, while senior middle blocker Allison Mair and junior outside hitter Kennedy Matheis posted six kills apiece. Mehringer dished out a team-high 17 assists. 

“They went out there and they played with heart,” Hohl said. “They played with energy. They never gave up. At the end of the day, we’re proud of what we accomplished.” 

Mair, Fuhs and senior setter Grace Kizior played their final games in Jasper uniforms. After the match concluded, the home student section rewarded the trio with a hearty “Thank you, seniors,” chant. 

“The future is bright for Jasper volleyball,” Hohl said. “We’re excited to get back at it.” 




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