Raiders finding confidence as wins add up

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Southridge's Amanda Brewer stretches to bump the ball during Monday's volleyball game in Ferdinand. Southridge defeated Forest Park 3-1 (25-13, 25-20, 18-25, 25-16) for their third straight victory after a rough start to the season. For more photos from the match, click here.


FERDINAND — It’s funny how little mundane things in life can be a precursor for the events that follow them.

Southridge was warming up for their Monday evening conference match against the Forest Park Rangers and one of the songs that happened to come on over the gym’s intercom system was MC Hammer’s 1991 hit single “2 Legit 2 Quit”.

Something must have carried through over the airwaves for Southridge because that is how the Raiders, who have been enduring a tough start to their season, played in order to come together and manufacture three solid games of volleyball in order to beat the Rangers 3-1 (25-13, 25-20, 18-25, 25-16) and earn their third win in a row.

Southridge coach Mande Keusch said the game plan and approach has not changed radically, but the new found success is a result of the players getting comfortable in their roles and becoming better at working together to maximize their skills on the court.

“I felt like we came out strong,” said Keusch. “We’re really pleased with the way we’ve been serving lately, we have a lot less errors and that’s changed the game a lot for us.”

Southridge (5-10, 2-1) was able to get off to a strong start in game one, which went a long way in setting the tone for the rest of the match. Junior Anna Altstadt scored the first three kills on the way to a quick 4-0 lead for the Raiders.

Forest Park junior Faith Zazzetti was able to respond for the Rangers with a kill of her own and spark a 3-0 run for the team. Southridge bounced back with another run of their own using crisp setups and volleys to keep Forest Park (3-12, 1-3) off balance. The Rangers eventually called timeout after they found themselves in an 11-4 hole.

But Southridge kept up the pressure. Junior Tatiana Delgado covered the floor as she sought out her opponent’s serve to set up the shots for the Raiders; Alstadt kept feasting along with sophomore teammates Maddie Songer and Rose Tempel. Eventually Southridge was able to close the book on the first game to the tune of 25-13.

Forest Park started to wake up a bit during the second game as the Rangers and Raiders traded points at an even clip to start out. This time senior Amanda Brewer found herself in the mix, scoring two of Southridge’s first three kills. The Raiders also enjoyed the benefit of back-to-back aces from junior Audra Hochgesang.

But Forest Park was able to keep pace thanks to the scoring efforts of Zazzetti and fellow junior Macie Zink. But while they gave it a good run, the Rangers were never quite able to overcome the punch of the Raiders and dropped the second game, 25-20.

At this point, with the possibility of getting swept at their doorstep, the Rangers came together and beared down to salvage what they could from a match that wasn’t going their way.

Southridge scored the first two points to start game three, but Forest Park quickly caught up. What followed was a back and forth effort where one team would score a couple points, then the other would match to keep things dead even. But eventually the Rangers seized the momentum of the game and put together a 9-3 stretch to separate themselves from the Raiders. Zink, Zazzetti, and junior Kennedy Sermersheim did everything in their power to will Forest Park to their 25-18 game three win.

Forest Park's Kylie Giesler sets the ball during Monday's volleyball game in Ferdinand. Giesler finished with eight kills and 14 assists in the loss. For more photos from the match, click here.

But Southridge did not buckle. They did not allow themselves to get down after dropping game three. They pulled it together and went back to what got them the first two games: savvy serves, spot-on setups, and aggressive plays at the net. It also helped to have a healthy dose of Altstadt to finish things off.

The Rangers started the last game with a 7-1 run with plenty of scoring from Altstadt and a couple of aces from junior Savanah Goeppner. Forest Park called timeout to stop the momentum, but Altstadt, Goeppner, and Brewer kept working. The Rangers did all they could, but they eventually succumbed to the efforts of the Raiders, whose win was capped off by an ace from Brewer.

Altstadt led the Raiders with 20 kills and 8 blocks. Goeppner had 19 assists. Brewer collected eight aces while Hochgesang took home five. Delgado led the team in digs with 18, Brewer (17), and senior Mady Neukam (16) also did their parts on the defensive end.

Forest Park was led by Macie Zink (eight kills, 10 points), Kylie Giesler (eight kills, 14 assists), Jaylyn Giesler (16 digs) and Faith Zazzetti (six blocks).

“It felt really great, we worked all week for this,” said Altstadt. “Coach also gave us practice off early if we won, that pushed us. It’s been a long few weeks because we haven’t been winning that often, but these last few games we’ve won, especially this one because it’s in our county, it’s been nice.”

 Keusch also said that, in addition to the offense coming along, the defense has taken great strides, especially along the back row where the players are getting better at reading opposing hitters.

Next up the Raiders will travel this Saturday to participate in the Tell City Invitational. Keusch hopes this new wave of confidence that the girls are feeling can translate back on the court as they work to get better and finish out the rest of their season strong.

“(We’re) still working on tweaking our consistency with our setting and keeping the ball off the net,” said Keusch. “I think our confidence and knowledge of the game is growing, so I’m pretty pleased so far.”

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