Wildcats not satisfied after sweeping HatchetsSeptember 5, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — In sports the bottom line always comes back to the two most important stats: wins and losses. A lot of coaches will say they’ll take ugly wins from here to Sunday, but Jasper volleyball coach Jennifer Hohl felt that the Wildcats could have played with more pep and consistency as they swept the Washington Hatchets 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-21) on Thursday night.
“You don’t want to take away from any other team, but a goal of ours is to always come in and play our level of ball,” said Hohl. “I don’t think we did that, we slowed down a lot. We executed when we needed to, our serve-receive was a lot better than some of our previous games, but I think we could have come out with a little more fire. Overall it was good, but I thought we could have played a little bit better.”
Washington scored the first three points in the opening set thanks to a combination of Jasper errors and a kill from senior outside hitter Makayla Sipes, but the Wildcats answered with consecutive kills from sophomore middle hitter Izzy Hopf and senior middle hitter Riley Merder. Junior defensive Kayla Fuhs added a pair of aces for a 4-3 Jasper lead.
The Wildcats and Hatchets continued to trade back and forth with Washington capitalizing on Jasper’s many errors. But the Wildcats caught fire after a 12-12 tie, rattling off a 6-1 run to force a Hatchets timeout. The ice attempt wasn’t successful as the Wildcats finished the set 25-15, closing out the first set with four straight scores.
The Wildcats asserted more control over the match in the second set as they blitzed out to an 8-2 start with kills from Merder, Hopf, and senior outside hitter Reagan Egbert. Mair, senior setter Kate Green, and senior defensive specialist Meredith Hilgefort padded Jasper’s lead to 15-6 as the Hatchets were thrown off balance with the onslaught.
Kills from sophomore middle hitters Kencia Levasseur and Alaina Thorne helped the Hatchets push back into the set, but Wildcats put together a 6-0 run to regain control of the proceedings. The Wildcats did have six late errors that almost let the Hatchets get back in it, but they once again got the scores they needed to quell any comeback efforts and took the set 25-16.
The third set followed the trajectory of the other two with a competitive beginning and both teams battling to an 8-8 stalemate. Once again Jasper used a spurt of kills to separate themselves from Washington, but the Hatchets were able to stay within a three-point range as the action progressed to the middle of the set.
Egbert, Green and Merder kept the lead in Jasper’s favor, but Washington wasn’t going away without one final push. Down 24-17 Levasseur scored three straight points and senior setter Madi McClure contributed an ace to get the Hatchets within three points of tying the set, but a final kill from sophomore outside hitter Caroline Kaiser capped the third set and Jasper completed the sweep.
Mair led the Wildcats with nine kills, Merder had seven and Egbert finished with six. Hopf and Kaiser each had five kills. Egbert finished with 10 digs, while Fuhs and sophomore defensive specialist Jayden Pfister each collected eight. Green had 33 assists on the night.
“We started a little slow,” Egbert admitted. “We lost touch with focusing on the fundamentals and we kind of played down. We didn’t play to our level, but I’m still happy with the win.”
Hohl thinks that the team overall is heading in the right direction as the Wildcats extended their current win streak to three games and have won seven of their last eight contests. The girls are getting better at harnessing their synergy and trusting each other on the court, but Hohl thinks the next corner to turn rest in between the team’s ears. She wants them to get better at locking in early and maintaining high levels of play so they can avoid falling into the trap of trying to flip the switch after they find themselves in precarious positions.
“It goes to the mental part of the game,” she said. “What you’re telling yourself and how you respond to a side-out, ace, or whatever. In any type of game at some point it becomes more mental than physical. That’s something that we continue to work on in practice and something they can get better at each time.”
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