MITCHELL — After cruising to a 25-10 first-set victory behind 13 straight service points by sophomore Taylor Peters, the Hay Springs volleyball team may have felt like it was in a little over its head.
However, behind first-year coach Jana Binger, the Hawks rallied in the final two sets only to fall short, giving the Tigers the 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-20) home win on Thursday night at Mitchell High School.
Mitchell improved to 6-4 on the season, while Hay Springs falls to 2-9.
“I think we let down a little bit in that second and third set,” Mitchell coach Michelle Peters said. “Something we need to work on is keeping our intensity up. Great group of kids, they work really hard. I'm very happy with our defense and being able to be scrappy and pick up the ball. Hay Springs picked it up in the second two sets, and we were happy to play as well as we did and get a win under our belt.”
After falling behind 5-3 in the first set, Taylor Peters ignited for the 13-point service run which included five ace serves, putting the Tigers up 17-6. Felina Blanco served up four-straight points in the set, while junior Morgan Michael closed the door for the 15-point set win and 1-0 advantage.
Hay Springs wasn't going to go down without a fight, though.
In a back-and-fourth battle midway through the second set and tied at 19-19, Taylor Peters again provided the spark, rattling off three kills that were set up by a four-point service run by senior Chalsey Grentz, who provided an ace to give Mitchell a narrow 23-19 advantage en route to the final 25-20 win in the frame.
The Hawks made a run in the third set when, down 15-9, senior Elizabeth Roberts recorded consecutive points with an ace block and a kill to pull Hay Springs to within three points, 15-12, before senior Kodee Muhr provided an ace serve to cut the deficit to just two, 15-13. The Hawks pulled to within three later in the set on another kill by Roberts, but Mitchell capitalized on a pair of Hay Springs miscues to seal the win.
Despite the loss, first-year Hay Springs coach Jana Binger was very impressed with the effort her team displayed, and was especially pleased with her team's play at the net against the Tigers.
“They're fighters for sure,” Binger said about her team. “We seem to play whatever level we play against. We rise to the occasion every time. Mentally, we just have to get over the hump. Our blocking was huge and we're getting a lot better at picking up stuff off the block. I was very impressed with that.”
Coach Peters attributed much of the Tigers' success to leadership and a strong camaraderie within the team.
“Because of the leadership that we have I think that our younger girls have really stepped it up. They feel comfortable on the floor with the leadership of the upperclassmen. They gel really well, it's a good team chemistry.”
Grentz, who finished the match with six points, two ace serves, four kills, and 20 assists; is one of only two Mitchell seniors on this year's squad along with Brianne Hessler, who finished with six kills and nine digs.
Grentz echoed Peters' sentiments, saying that the underclassmen are developing well and contributing a lot to help the Tigers win close matches like this one.
“I love my team. I wouldn't change it for the world,” Grentz said. “We get along really well on and off the court and it's great. We get down sometimes, but we get back up right away.”
Hay Springs was paced by senior Elizabeth Roberts, who finished with Three kills, eight blocks (one ace block), 19 digs, and one ace serve. Sophomore Kate Roberts added four kills, six blocks (two ace blocks), and 20 digs. Steph Tlustos and Whitney Heiting finished with three kills apiece, while Michaela Metcalf had two kills and an ace serve. Kodee Muhr chipped in 13 points, 23 set assists, two kills, and one ace serve.
Mitchell was paced by Peters' 18 points, seven ace serves, 14 kills, three set assists, and 20 digs. Blanco added six points, one ace serve, two set assists, and six digs; while Michael had three points, three kills, one ace block, and two digs. Arissa Gabel had five points, one ace serve, and 16 digs; Mikaela Karpen had three kills; Aspen Reifschneider had two kills, three ace blocks, and five digs; while Hessler added six kills and nine digs.
Mitchell will next be in action when it hosts the Mitchell Invite on Saturday, while Hay Springs travels to Leyton today.