Wildcats extend win streak to three in a rowOctober 7, 2019
BY JONATHAN SAXON
FERDINAND — The volleyball season is coming to a close, but not before a couple of county rivals got their chance to give each other what-for on Monday night when Forest Park hosted Jasper. Both teams went at it with all their might, but when the final kill was planted, it was the Wildcats who took home the 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-13) victory over the Rangers.
Wildcats coach Jennifer Hohl was happy to see that her team didn’t show any signs of court rust after being out of action since their match versus North Posey on Sept. 30. Instead, Jasper got right after it from the opening set to the final whistle.
“I thought we executed very well,” she said. “We came out with a lot of fire and intensity after being off for almost a week. We were ready to get back on the court. We had been focusing in practice, and it showed on the court tonight.”
The Rangers (10-13, 3-4) hit the scoreboard first, thanks to kills from senior middle hitter Faith Zazzetti and senior outside hitter Macie Zink. However, senior outside hitter Reagan Egbert and sophomore middle hitter Izzy Hopf answered with a vengeance to swing the momentum back in the Wildcats’ favor. Consecutive aces from senior defensive specialist Meredith Hilgefort sparked a 7-2 Jasper run, but a kill from Zink combined with a couple of Wildcat errors slowed the advance for a bit. The Wildcats (18-13, 4-0) and Rangers exchanged the next few points before a final 4-2 run capped the first set for the Wildcats, 25-17.
Egbert and Zazzetti dominated the early points of the second set before both teams committed a series of errors that brought them to a 10-all deadlock. The Wildcats opened the set a bit with scores from junior middle hitter Allison Mair, senior middle hitter Riley Merder and errors from the Rangers to the tune of a 17-12 lead. But Forest Park kept battling back. Zazzetti, along with senior setter Kylie Giesler and sophomore middle hitter Ali Welp, kept the Rangers hot on Jasper’s heels, but they couldn’t quite catch the Wildcats. Merder, Hopf and Egbert sparked another late scoring burst, and Jasper pulled away to win the second set, 25-20.
Sensing the end was near, Jasper got a jump on the third set with a 4-0 start. Forest Park fought back with three straight scores of its own, but Egbert and junior setter Grace Kizior held the Rangers at bay. Zazzetti, Zink and junior defensive specialist Tori Fetter tried to get the Rangers back in the match, but every time they got something going, Egbert, Merder or another Wildcat would put down a hard kill that brought the Rangers’ wave to a halt. The Wildcats eventually overwhelmed the Rangers, and took the final set, 25-13.
Egbert paced the Wildcats with 21 kills, Hopf had six, and both Mair and Merder finished with five. Kizior had 24 assists, and Fuhs finished with 11 digs.
Zazzetti led the Rangers with 10 kills. Giesler had 16 assists and Boehm contributed 14 digs.
“I think we came out together and played really well,” Egbert said. “Everyone was just really positive and having fun out there. When we’re out there with no worries, we just really connect and it shows on the scoreboard.”
Rangers coach Alexa Rasche was disappointed Forest Park had bright moments throughout the match, but the girls couldn’t use those instances to gain control of the action for long periods of time.
“We had good runs for awhile where we were making things happen,” she said. “And then there were a lot of times when we gave it right back to them, let them control the pace. I thought they came out strong the first two sets, third set was a little rocky, though.”
The win marked three in a row for Jasper, and the Wildcats will have one more match against Boonville on Thursday to wrap up their regular season. Hohl wants to see the Wildcats keep up the high levels of communication and intensity that they produce when they play their best volleyball. All signs this season point to those two factors being the greatest indicators of Jasper’s success.
“It’s getting better each game,” she said. “They know when we do those things consistently and with a lot of enthusiasm, great things can happen for us. Those are the type of things we have to do all the time to be successful.”
The Rangers find themselves on a three-game skid, but they too have one more regular-season game against Gibson Southern to get themselves going into sectional on the right foot. They hope to do a better job, moving forward, of controlling the tempo instead of just reacting to whatever their opponent is trying to do against them.
“I would like to see them play three sets where we’re controlling the pace,” Rasche said. “I would like for them to pick up the consistency on that. Once we get up, we need to stay up and make a statement.”
“We have our moments when we’re really good, then our moments when we’re down,” Zazzetti added. “I just hope that we bring it Thursday and get a win so we’re boosted up for our sectional game.”
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