Wildcats rally back to beat Jeeps, end losing streakSeptember 20, 2019
BY JONATHAN SAXON
DUBOIS — The Jasper volleyball team was in the midst of a valley in its season going into Thursday night's game against Northeast Dubois. The Wildcats were on a three-match skid, and after a back-and-forth first set, they found themselves down to a Jeeps team that’s all about mauling opponents when they’re down.
In the past, this could have been a recipe for disaster. But instead of folding, the Wildcats rallied to win three straight sets, and picked up the victory over the Jeeps, 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 26-24).
Wildcats coach Jennifer Hohl knew her team had that kind of grit in them. It’s one thing to get up early and ride the wave to a win, but she and the coaches were impressed seeing the girls take an opening shot and pick themselves back off the canvas for a comeback.
“I told them this is the first night they’ve truly played the game how we knew they could play,” she said. “They played together with intensity; they never gave up. They stayed mentally focused the whole time. It’s refreshing to see what we know has always been there.”
The initial set was a back-and-forth affair, with Jasper (11-6, 4-0) gaining a minor edge late after a kill from senior outside hitter Reagan Egbert put the Wildcats up 23-22. But a couple of errors quickly moved the pendulum in the Jeeps’ favor before senior outside hitter Taylor Dodd tipped it all the way over with a hammer shot that finished the opening number.
But the Jeeps (6-6, 3-1) opened the second act with three straight errors, and it was the Wildcats’ turn to pounce for a 6-0 lead. Northeast Dubois senior setter Chloe Terwikse answered with a kill that sparked a nine-point run. Sophomore outside hitter Caroline Kaiser notched a kill to halt the Jeeps' roll, but another trio of errors put the Wildcats firmly behind the eight ball.
Still, the Wildcats kept up the fight behind a pair of kills from Egbert and junior middle hitter Allison Mair. Senior middle hitter Riley Merder and sophomore middle hitter Izzy Hopf joined in the fray to keep up the push, and though Northeast Dubois did what it could to slow the Wildcats, Jasper finally caught up to tie the set at 20. Another kill from Hopf put the Wildcats over, and closing scores from Mair and senior setter Kate Green tied the match at a set apiece.
The early goings of the third set were even, but an ace from Mair sparked an 8-3 run for Jasper, which included heavy contributions from Hopf and Kaiser. The run knocked the Jeeps off balance, and though they able to get scores from Dodd and freshman middle hitter Peagan Knies, the pressure coming from the Wildcats side of the net was wearing on Northeast Dubois. The Jeeps didn’t make the final points easy — a block from freshman middle hitter Rhylan Kalb and a final kill from Dodd held the Wildcats in place for a moment. But Green was there once again to put the final nail in the coffin on the third set.
Not ones to give up without a fight, the Jeeps gave it all they had in the fourth set. The first nine points for both teams were hard earned; no one on the court was willing to give ground. Jasper was able to gain a brief four-point edge, but Northeast Dubois fought back to a two-score game. The Wildcats initiated another small outburst thanks to Egbert, Merder and Green. But the efforts of Dodd, combined with Wildcat errors, helped the Jeeps keep pace.
Egbert and Hopf were matched by Kalb and sophomore right setter Brinley Royer before another Green kill gave the Wildcats a 24-22 lead. But Dodd wouldn’t let the Jeeps go away quietly. She scored two straight kills to force a 24-24 tie, and gave the Jeeps fans hope of forcing a fifth set. But Green knocked down one more kill, and Merder came up with the final block to finally draw the curtain for the night.
Egbert finished with 14 kills, while Meder had another 11. Sophomore defensive specialist Jayden Pfister led the team with 23 digs. Green finished with 34 assists and 20 digs. Dodd finished with 21 kills, Terwiske had 40 assists, and Fuhrman had 18 digs.
“This is the first time we’ve really come together and played as a team,” Green said. “We played some good games, but tonight we really communicated well and we stayed together.”
Hohl hopes a win such as this not only galvanizes the team, but can help the Wildcats shake the perception that they’re not a team that’s willing to wade through the muck to get difficult wins.
“With this win tonight, I hope it shows our girls the potential they have,” she said. “Jasper isn’t really known to be scrappy, but they never gave up. They gave it their all tonight.”
The Jeeps now find themselves on a three-game losing streak, but they’re determined not to be weighed down by the fact that a tough one got away from them. They’re going to continue to trust in their fundamentals, give it all they can on the floor, and let the chips fall where they may.
“Not everything is going to go our way, but that’s not something we can help,” Jeeps coach Misty Smith said. “We have to take it and move on to make it right. That just forces us to play a little bit harder.”
“Being a senior and having these years before me, knowing that it’s possible to come back from a loss helps,” Dodd added. “Some of the underclassmen get down on themselves, and I just focus on keeping everybody up and in a good mood. There is a possibility of coming back. We can push, we can work hard.”
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