Rockets take final two sets to pull out 3-2 victory
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Spencer volleyball team has not lost a Cloverbelt Conference East Division match since 2011, but on Thursday night that streak nearly came to an end.
Columbus Catholic won two of the first three games and had a match point, leading 25-24 in Game 4, but the Rockets stormed back to win three straight points to take the set and even the match.
Spencer trailed in the fifth set 5-3 before going on a 7-3 run, and it went on to a 15-10 victory to take the match 3-2 by scores of 23-25, 25-21, 15-25, 27-25, 15-10. The Rockets head into their final three conference matches with a 4-0 record in the Cloverbelt East as they search for their fifth-straight championship. Spencer’s conference win streak now stands at 41.
“I kept saying all night that if we pass, set, and swing, we do all right,” Spencer coach Buff Heller said. “I told them at that timeout (at 24-23), ‘We just need one set, one pass, one swing, and we’ll get the ball back,’ and we did.”
Spencer fought back from two deficits to take a 22-20 lead in the opening game before the Dons pulled away. Two kills and a block by Celine Scholin allowed Columbus (4-1 Cloverbelt East) to win 25-23.
After taking a 14-9 lead in Game 2, the Dons seemed to have all the momentum. But as was the case throughout the grueling match, momentum did not last long.
Spencer scored the next 11 points, two on kills by Jenna Schober, and a strong defensive effort pushed the Rockets to a 25-21 win to even the match.
The play of Jenna Rogers and Schober in the back row was key to keeping the Rockets in the match.
Schober finished with 15 kills and 28 digs, Rogers also had 28 digs, and Courtney Buss had 24 digs and four service aces. Sadie Mercier had 19 assists, and McKenzie Bainer added 16.
“Schober and Rogers were putting a lot of balls back up, and Courtney Buss played out of her mind too,” Heller said. “Those three kept us in every point it seemed. If we play like that (in the second set), nobody can beat us. I’ll take on anybody if we can play defense like that.”
Kendra Baierl had nine of her match-high 36 kills in the third set for the Dons, who used a 12-3 run to pull ahead 21-12. Baierl passed the career 1,000 kill plateau in the game. A pair of block kills by Scholin finished off a 25-15 win.
The fourth game was tight throughout. Spencer led 11-8 before the Dons forged ahead 14-12. After Spencer scored, neither team led by more than a point until the end.
Columbus went up 25-24 after a service error by the Rockets. Spencer gained a sideout, and Schober followed with an ace. A hitting error by the Dons gave Spencer a 27-25 win to even the match again.
“The girls were nervous, and it showed with missed serves,” Columbus Catholic coach Kat Egle said. “We had 17 missed serves tonight — we had one the other night — so that’s not normal. Our nerves got the best of us, but they gave it their all, gave it 110 percent.”
An ace from Mercier put Spencer on top 9-7 in the fifth set, and the Rockets led the rest of the way. A Rogers ace and an error from the Dons ended the match.
Despite the loss, Egle said the Dons have proven they will be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the way.
“We are strong with seniors this year, and they really work hard in the offseason,” Egle said. “They take that extra step to do the clubs, the camps, come to all the open gyms, and come to practice and give it their all with no complaints.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)