So much for number one rankings. Those spunky Blazers upset undefeated and number one in Class 3A Mount Vernon on their home floor Sept. 22.
The match was a five-game marathon, 26-24, 25-21, 21-25, 16-25, 16-14. The Blazers prevailed with runs in key spots of the first and second games and then in the pivotal fifth. In that one, a 10-6 lead had turned into a 13-11 deficit but Kiersten Schmitt got a kill to go down to begin a comeback for the win, ending the Mustangs’ 22-game win streak. The Blazers had rallied from a 24-21 deficit in the first game and a 19-17 disadvantage in the second.
“While I thought we struggled to maintain a consistent offense, when we were in system we really played well,” said coach Todd Troutman. “We were able to side out and avoid giving up a lot of runs. The best thing we did was just to stay tough and battle for every point. There were a couple of opportunities for Mount Vernon to take control in games one and two and we just kept fighting and found a way to get the wins. In game one, we were down 24-21 and found a way to go on a five-point run to win.
“We seemed to lose a little focus in games three and four but regrouped in game five. That game was all about toughness and I loved the way our girls responded. We stayed up a point or two till about 10, then they went on a little run and got up 13-11. Again, we found a way to break serve and go up 14-13. We missed a serve to let them tie it up, but maintained our aggressive play and won the next two points.”
Individual stats include: serving — Makayla Koelker and Jadyn Welling 21-of-22, Schmitt 14-of-15, Olivia Hogan 10-of-11, Nell McDermott 13-of-15, Kamryn Klas 11-of-13, Leah Wessels 5-of-6; aces — Klas and Welling one; kills — Schmitt 14, Kylee Reuber 11, Klas 10, Lauren Osterhaus, Jenna Lansing and Keeley Schmitt five, Welling three; blocks — Kiersten Schmitt eight, Rueber three, Klas and Keeley Schmitt two, Lansing one; digs — Hogan 43, Kiersten Schmitt 17, Koelker 13, Klas 10, Welling nine, McDermott, Osterhaus and Keeley Schmitt four, Lansing three; assists — Koelker and Kiersten Schmitt 21, Hogan four, Lansing two, Klas and Osterhaus one.
The Blazers endured a five-match marathon at the Denver tourney Sept. 26, winning three and dropping two. They stopped Starmont 21-5, 21-15, fell to Sumner-Fredericksburg 16-21, 11-21, and Denver 15-21, 21-18, 13-15, but regrouped to top Maquoketa Valley 21-14, 21-17 and Tripoli 21-9, 21-9.
“Going in I thought we had had a good week of practice and understood the importance of the day,” said Troutman. “While we started out well in our first match of the day against Starmont, we were not able to maintain our level of play. We seemed a step slow and a bit off all day. Our mental focus was not where it needed to be and we started making some uncharacteristic errors. We were just a bit off in all phases of our game and you just don’t get away with that against the quality of teams we played in Sumner-Fredericksburg and Denver.
“We finished the day with a couple of decent wins over Tripoli and Maquoketa Valley but we need to become more consistent in our play as the season is well past the halfway point. We get a chance to get back on track in our final home match Tuesday (Sept. 29) versus Solon and our last weekend tournament in Waverly Saturday. The following week we travel to Manchester and then start preparing for the WaMaC conference tourney and post-season play.”
Individual tourney totals: serving — Koelker 38-of-41, McDermott 28-of-30, Wessels 23-of-23, Welling 26-of-28, Hogan 31-of-32, Klas 39-of-44; aces — Klas nine, Hogan seven, Koelker three, McDermott and Welling two; kills — Kiersten Schmitt 22, Klas 13, Osterhaus, Rueber and Lansing nine, Welling and Hogan five; digs — Hogan 33, Welling 21, Klas 11, Koelker nine, McDermott five, Kiersten Schmitt four, Lansing one; blocks — Osterhaus 11, Lansing and Kiersten Schmitt five, Klas four, Rueber three, Wessels and Keeley Schmitt one; assists — Koelker 32, Wessels 17, Kiersten Schmitt 11, Hogan eight, Welling two, McDermott and Klas one.