Sam Kennedy and Kelsey Dillenburg were too much for the Cozad Lady Haymakers on Thursday, as the duo combined for 20 kills, five stuff blocks, and 11 digs in No. 9 state-ranked Sutherland’s 25-12, 25-5, and 25-8 win. Kennedy also had six ace-serves, five of which came in the second set during a 17-0 Lady Sailors run.
“I was really pleased how aggressive we went out with our serving,” said Sutherland coach Valerie Kershner. “We were pretty consistent, didn’t have many errors, and kept the ball in play. Sam had six ace serves all night long and five were in the same set.”
Cozad coach Darrel Francescato agreed with the effectiveness of Sutherland’s service game.
“We were having trouble reading their short serve to their hard serve — not moving our feet,” the coach said.
Sutherland (8-4), as a team, hit a stellar .333 percentage on the night. Kennedy finished the night with six ace serves, eight kills, two blocks and 10 digs. Dillenburg had 12 kills and a .417 hitting percentage, three blocks, and one dig.
“She was very aggressive,” said Kershner of Kennedy. “We have been working on running some different things. I was pleased to see her come out and do those.
“And then everybody else seemed to pick it up also. We got a lot from Kelsey tonight. She did a good job at the net. Just all the way around we did a pretty good job.”
Francescato said the Lady Haymakers paid special attention to Kennedy during the contest.
“We couldn’t stop her up at the net,” Francescato said. “We were trying to mimic her across the front, keeping one girl on her all the time, but when you’re giving free balls to a good passing team you don’t know where the set is going — and the [Joli] Hopping girl is a good setter.”
After dropping the first set 25-12, Cozad (2-11) jumped out to a 3-1 lead on two Morgan Altwine service aces. Sutherland’s Dillenburg tied it up on a kill at 3-3 on a tip, but Alec Geiger had a kill to put the Lady Haymakers back on top. And then Kennedy stepped back to serve. When she would finish, the Lady Sailors were in complete control at 20-4.
Dillenburg had seven kills in the set to lead the Sutherland attack to go with Kennedy’s service aces. The Lady Sailors defense was up to par, as they repeatedly got themselves back in the point with their movement.
“I was pleased how scrappy we were,” Kershner said. “Cozad hustled after everything. They kept a lot of balls in play that we didn’t necessarily expect them to.
“We have to give it to them for that, but we did a good job of being scrappy ourselves. We had some great plays where our girls were running down balls and making good decision plays. I think we played a pretty scrappy game.
“All the way around I’m very pleased with the way the girls performed tonight. They came out and maybe lost a point here-and-there, but didn’t get down in any holes and they stayed on top and kept being aggressive and talking. So I’m really happy the way they played.”
Sutherland statistics: Joli Hopping – 2 ace serves, 4 kills, 15 set assists, 7 def digs; Kaley Stokey – 1 ace serve, 18 def digs; Stephanie Hornyak – 3 def digs; Kelsey Dillenburg – 12 kills, 3 blks, 1 dig; Sam Kennedy – 6 ace serves, 8 kills, 2 blks, 2 def digs; Kristen Nelson, 1 ace serve, 2 kills, 1 set assists, 10 def digs; Kinsey Bush – 2 def digs; Haley Baxter, 2 kills, 1 set assists, 2 def digs; Allison Stewart – 4 kills, 2 def digs.
Unofficial Cozad statistics: Molly Thramer – 1 kill, 1 service ace; Morgan Altwine – 3 kills, 2 service aces; Payden Knudsen – 1 kill; Haley Gengenbach – 1 kill; Haley Montgomery – 3 kills, 1 service ace, 1 blk.