Jeeps regain confidence with home victory

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Northeast Dubois' Molly Lueken jumps to block the ball during Tuesday's volleyball match in Dubois. Northeast Dubois defeated South Knox 3-0 (25-9, 25-11, 25-11) for a big bounce back victory after being swept by county rival Jasper last Thursday. Lueken had a strong match for the Jeeps as she finished with 11 kills, nine digs and two blocks.


DUBOIS — Last week was sort of a whirlwind for the Northeast Dubois volleyball team.

After sweeping sectional rival Springs Valley at home in a match that had a playoff-esque type of atmosphere, the Jeeps were brought down to earth in a 3-0 sweep by the Jasper Wildcats in a gym that can be described as daunting.

What’s the best way to bounce back after a tough defeat? Get right back in the win column.

“We needed another win because that (loss to Jasper) brought our spirits down,” said senior Molly Lueken who finished with a team-high 11 kills in a 3-0 (25-9, 25-11, 25-11) victory over Blue Chip foe South Knox on Tuesday evening in Dubois. “We just needed a fun game like this one to get us back on track.”

The Jeeps (12-3, 5-0) were able to start quickly in all three sets as they got out to leads of 15-4, 13-4 and 12-5.

Fast starts are something that Northeast Dubois head coach Misty Smith has focused on in practices and the bursts of offense at the opening of sets has been a momentum shifter of sorts.

“If they start like that, they tend to feed off of that and they just keep going,” Smith said. “Even if someone makes an error, it’s not as bad and they’re not upset. It takes a lot to shut them back down and that’s always a plus for me — it makes them happy and when they’re happy, they play their best.”

After the loss to Jasper last Thursday, the Jeeps knew that practice sessions in between that match and Tuesday’s game against South Knox were going to be intense.

But the quickest way to get past what happened against the Cats was simple — put it in the back of your mind.
“I think we just knew we had to let it go and put it in the past,” said senior Kendyl Heeke. “We were all expecting it to be tough but we just focused on what we didn’t do the time before.”

Smith added: “We tried to just take what happened (last week) and let it go. In practice, we just came in here and focused on what we do best — passing, serving, running first ball kills and I also tried to play music about togetherness and family. I needed to find a way to pick them up and that seemed to work.”

The skills that Smith had the Jeeps work on in their latest practice sessions definitely showed in the straight-sets win over the Spartans on Tuesday.

The passing — led by Heeke  (20 assists) and junior Chloe Terwiske  (12 assists) — was crisp and clear which led to more and more kills for players such as Lueken, Taylor Dodd (seven) and AJ Kirchoff (seven).

Serving has also been a skill set that the Jeeps have used to their advantage all season and it paid dividends once again against South Knox. Northeast Dubois finished with a total of 18 aces with Kirchoff leading the way with eight, Lueken added four and Heeke and Terwiske both finished with three.

Northeast Dubois' AJ Kirchoff serves during Tuesday's volleyball match in Dubois. The Jeeps had a strong serving match as a team as they finished with a total of 18 aces with Kirchoff leading the way with eight of them.

“For our serves, once we get on a roll I don’t think anything can really stop us at least for me personally,” said Kirchoff. “We get our attitudes up and think ‘We’re going to get this ace.’ And once I get one, I just think ‘Okay, here goes the next one’ and I think everybody on our team feels that way too.”

Lueken added: “We spend a lot of time working on serving because it’s the first opportunity for us to get a point. We have a lot of aces but we also have a lot of misses at times — it all depends on how aggressive we’re trying to be.”

With about two and a half weeks before their IHSAA Class 1A sectional begins, which the Jeeps host, there’s still a few goals left in the regular season that the team would like to accomplish.

One date in particular that’s circled on the calendar is October 2 when the Jeeps travel to Montgomery to take on Class 1A No. 2 Barr-Reeve, their final conference opponent of the regular season. The Jeeps and Vikings both are undefeated in conference play and the match could come down to deciding who wins the Blue Chip regular season conference crown.

But the Jeeps have high hopes for the postseason and they’re excited to see how the regular season pans out before sectional play begins.

“We’re ready,” Kirchoff said. “All these games we’re playing right now are just preparing us for sectional and I feel like we’re ready.”

As part of 'Meet A Senior' night, Grace Dooley of Dubois, 9, spent Tuesday evening shadowing Northeast Dubois High School senior AJ Kirchoff as the volleyball team took on South Knox at the school in Dubois. AJ and Grace celebrate the Jeeps' three-set win in the locker room following the game. Grace won a t-shirt autographed by AJ, plus the opportunity to run out with the team before the game, have her name announced in the line-up, watch the action from the bench and join the team huddle.

More on