Rangers battle past Raiders 3-1 in sectionalOctober 14, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
FERDINAND — Never say die.
It’s a universal sentiment held by athletes across all the arenas of sports. Even in the face of mounting odds, give it everything you’ve got, fight until the end and live with the result.
Both the Forest Park and Southridge volleyball teams had their never-say-die moments in their Class 2A first-round sectional match Monday night. The Raiders were on the brink of elimination when they fought their way back to force another set. And the Rangers responded by digging in their heels to absorb the late-match charge from the Raiders. In the end, the Rangers got the four-set victory (25-17, 25-18, 16-25, 25-23) they needed to advance to the semifinals.
Rangers coach Alexa Rasche was proud of the consistency the girls played with across the first two sets, as well as the grit they displayed in fighting back against the Raiders (9-19) to close the fourth set, though, for the sake of her health, she wished they could have done it with a little less theatrical flair.
“Sometimes, I think they do it just for dramatic reasons,” she quipped. “It gives me a heart attack, but for them, it shows ‘Hey we can do this, we can fight back and make it happen.’”
But before then, it was the Raiders that were fighting back in survival mode. After dropping the first two sets, Southridge opened the third set with a four-point run, and rode middle hitters Anna Altstadt and Myah Montgomery to a 13-5 lead. Rangers seniors Macie Zink, Faith Zazzetti and Kennedy Sermersheim tried their hardest to stem the tide, but the steady flow of shots from the Raider frontline overpowered their efforts. For every Ranger point, the Raiders put up three more before two final kills from Montgomery forced a fourth set.
Both teams were neck and neck before Southridge began to pull away for a 10- 4 lead behind kills from Altstadt, Montgomery and junior outside hitter Rose Tempel. But Zink, Zazzetti and sophomore middle hitter Ali Welp were able to keep the Rangers close on the scoreboard before a kill from senior setter Emma Hassfurther tied the set at 18. Southridge managed to gain a 23-22 lead after a Montgomery kill and consecutive aces from freshman outside hitter Bailey Keusch, but an error at the net plus two final kills from Zink were enough to seal the fourth set for the Rangers (11-14).
Zink had 21 kills to lead the court, and also finished with 12 digs. Zazzetti had another 12 kills and three blocks. Kylie Giesler had 45 assists, 11 digs and two aces. Bralyn Boehm had 21 digs, and Sermersheim finished with three aces along with 11 digs, eight kills and an assist.
Altstadt had 15 kills and six blocks, while Montgomery had another 10 kills and four blocks. Senior setter Savanah Goeppner had 17 assists, while junior middle hitter Maddie Songer had 14 assists and seven kills. Keusch had five aces.
“We came out on fire,” Zink said. “We were so pumped, we had so much adrenaline all day at school. We all had confidence in each other, I knew my team had my back. That made me feel better. That made my teammates feel better.”
Raiders coach Mande Keusch was proud of the way her team fought back from the brink when it would have been easy to give up the third set after dropping the first couple. She believed the team that played Monday night was better than its season record reflected, and even with the departure of her five seniors, she thinks they are headed in the right direction as a program.
“I told them they should be very proud of the effort,” she said. “We didn’t give up on ourselves, we could have easily just laid over and died being down 2-0. I think if we could have spread the gap a little more, we might have been able to pull that one out. I’m proud that they stayed aggressive the whole time.”
“The third set we came back and killed it. The fourth set was amazing too,” added Altstadt. “I think we played through it really well. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but in the end we came together. That was our best game, and next fall they’re going to be great.”
The Rangers will move on to play North Knox in the semifinal round on Thursday. Rasche hopes that they harness the fire they’ve cultivated and come out with the same fighting spirit that saw them through on Monday night.
“Making them realize you have to earn these next few days, they’re not given to you,” she said. “You have to come out and take every point. That is something I want them to do when we play next.”
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