It came down to this match with West Delaware, as to whether the Blazers would share the top of the WaMaC East or claim it alone. After a four-game match Oct. 5 at Beckman the outcome was a share with identical records of 3-1 after the Hawks claimed the win 25-21, 25-23, 19-25, 25-21.
The near-capacity gym saw not only two teams battle for every point but also Beckman’s Kiersten Schmitt eclipse the 1,000-kill mark for her career, with eight in the first game of the match. She ended the night with 29 to far out-distance the kill total of any player on the floor (Hawk Alivia Schulte ended with 13).
But it came down to the ability of the Class 3A No. 1 Hawks to score off the short set, a near unstoppable kill coming every time. They used it effectively, stopping several rallies from the Class 2A No. 6 Blazers that looked to be gaining traction.
Neither team could break away in the first game, with just a single point spread between them all the way. The Blazers took a little lead 18-15 on kills from Schmitt but a lift and net call stopped that. Knotted at 19, the Hawks took advantage of a Blazer tip out of bounds, another lift call and a kill that went long for a 22-19 lead. A Schmitt kill got that to 22-20 but another shot that went too far gave it back to the Hawks, 23-20. They gifted a net serve, 23-21, but received the bounty back with the final two points on long balls from the Blazers.
Game two saw the Blazers lead 5-1, then 9-3, before the Hawks clawed back, taking advantage of two four-hit calls, a block from Brooke Krogmann and tip from Ella Koloc before another Blazer miscue edged them to 9-8. Jenna Lansing powered a kill to up that to 10-8 and they stayed up by that slim point or two until another four-hit call and a Jaci Bries block knotted the game at 19. The Hawks got blocks from Kayla Felton and Bries around a long ball from Shelby Pirc to lead 22-19. Leah Wessels tipped the next point, 22-20, answered by Bries, 23-20, but when Schulte hit one out and Schmitt put one down, it was 23-22. Schulte and Schmitt traded kills, 24-23, before Schulte pounded the game-winner to the far back corner.
Game three was all Blazers, from their 6-2, 8-4, 12-5 leads that held till the end. They didn’t let the Hawks anywhere near, taking advantage of several Hawk mistakes and net calls. When Kam Klas hit two-out back-to-back, the score was still 21-15 Blazers and Lansing answered them with hard kills, 23-15. Schmitt ended things with another kill.
According to Hawk coach Brett Mather, “We kind of let down in that third game and I challenged them before the fourth to get things back together.”
Together they did, opening with a 7-2 lead and maintaining most of that until the Blazers cut it to 15-13 on four straight Schmitt points. But a Lauren Osterhaus ball out, along with a Schmitt OB and mishit and they were down 18-13 before Schmitt got her kill back, 18-14. It was 19-16 on a Lansing kill but Schulte answered, 20-16. The Blazers cut the margin to 20-19 on Osterhaus and Lansing kills, sandwiched around a Koloc ball out of bounds. But Schulte took the game back, getting three of the last four points, including the game-winner.
Coach Todd Troutman added, “This was an excellent match played by two very good teams. In the end, we made a few too many errors and West Delaware made a couple more plays than we did to ultimately win the match.
“While I thought we came into the match with a great mindset and stayed as locked in mentally as we have in a long time, we are at the point in the season where there is no room for ‘moral victories’. We need to find a way to make the plays necessary to beat the really good teams on our schedule.
“We are going to run into some excellent teams at the WaMaC tournament and will have to beat some really good teams if we want to make it back to state. If we can stay locked in and bring the same kind of intensity as we did in this match, we are going to put ourselves in a position to be very successful. It will be a matter of making two or three plays per game.”
Beckman’s leaders were: serving — Olivia Hogan 18-of-18, Wessels and Osterhaus 13-of-13, Lansing 14-of-15, Schmitt 12-of-14, Klas 14-of-17; aces — Hogan three, Klas two, Lansing one; kills — Schmitt 29, Klas eight, Lansing seven, Wessels five, Osterhaus and Pirc three; blocks — Lansing three, Schmitt and Osterhaus two, Pirc one; digs — Hogan 31, Wessels 21, Schmitt 13, Klas 10, Reese Osterhaus five, Lauren Osterhaus four, Lansing two; assists — Wessels 43, Hogan five.