Lady Savages outlast Keota in five sets

Heidi Clarahan contributed with her offense and defense, finishing the match against arch-rival Keota with seven kills, two blocks, two digs and one assist.

The Lady Savages hosted the Lady Eagles on September 24 between a battle of arch-rivals to kickoff Sigourney’s Homecoming week. A sizeable home crowd and energetic student section helped push their girls to victory as Sigourney had to overcome an early deficit but finished out by winning a close fifth set.

Things didn’t start in Sigourney’s favor as Keota got out to an early lead in the opening set. The Lady Eagles kept Sigourney at bay throughout much of the set, leading to some frustrating moments for the Lady Savages coach Chris Carter, along with her players. Meanwhile, Keota was playing their style of volleyball and kept winning points while doing so, taking the first set 25-17.

“I told them that I’d lose with sophomores and juniors if the seniors and juniors aren’t stepping up and playing,” Carter said. “I feel we play well then get comfortable, we don’t have that instinct yet to put a team away, that’s what we’re missing.”

Carter’s strategy paid off and the Lady Savages started clicking again as they looked like a completely different team in the second set. Keota lost their momentum along the way and Sigourney was relentless, putting away Keota with a 25-10 win. The rollercoaster ride of a match was just beginning for both teams once each side found out what worked and what didn’t.

The third set featured several rallies between the two sides, with neither team able to take a firm lead. Keota would go up, then Sigourney would counter, followed by another run by the Lady Eagles. It went that way for much of the set until Keota finally found some breathing room late. The late rally ended the set, resulting in celebration for the girls in purple, while the home team looked to regroup between sets.

Sigourney got some quick points to lead off the fourth set from Giulia Molinari as she racked up five consecutive aces. That jump start would prove valuable for the home team by not only getting some of the momentum back but also giving the offense the confidence they needed to put together a crucial win with their backs against the wall. The lead would get up to 15-4, due to some more aces and some kills at the net, which led to a Keota timeout.

“It was huge for us to get those early points, it was my plan for the fourth set,” Carter said. “We played well but we need to be more consistent. We earned a point, but then we’d give up three points.”

The Lady Eagles would put together a couple rallies of their own to close the gap down to seven points, then down to six on a missed attack by Sigourney. The swing led to a timeout by the Lady Savages, with the intent on refocusing and finishing out the set strong. Keota would get within four points but that was it as Sigourney strung together the final points to win the fourth set 25-19.

Keota got to serve first in the decisive fifth set, their second in as many weeks. Addison Sprouse had a trio of aces to give her team an early advantage, two of her serves going untouched. Sigourney responded with a few points of their own but were still down 3-7 midway through the fifth, leading to a timeout for Sigourney. The Lady Savages kept their push going, including winning a long back and forth point to pull them within one.

“I like the fact that we can play from behind, but it’d be nice to be playing ahead,” Carter said. “I’m glad we have the fight to not give up but we need to get to the point where we’re in control and in command.”

The remaining points were a roller coaster of emotions within itself as Sigourney took back the lead, but Keota wouldn’t go away, staying as close as one point behind. Both sides were on the brink of besting the other and Sigourney was the first to hit the 15-point mark. The set would require extra points as Sigourney only led by one.

Keota responded with a couple points of their own to take a one-point advantage, but Sigourney would tie things back up. Sigourney finally got the needed break, up 18-17 and then set up a perfect pass to Sloane Magill and she hammered home the game-winning point that got through two Keota defenders and hit inside the line. The Lady Eagles were dealt the tough loss but for Sigourney it was a jubilant win after some tough weekend matches.

“I don’t know how we managed to keep that going but it was a huge hurdle for us to get over,” Carter said. “I told them in our last timeout that we were playing scared to death in the beginning of game five and to not be afraid to make mistakes but do be afraid to not give your best. Somewhere along the line they played and did some things we hadn’t done all night.”

Molinari had one of her best games of the season by contributing on all facets with nine digs, eight aces, eight assists and seven kills. Magill led the team with 15 digs, Ryleigh Leonard had 13 digs and Savhannah White had 11 digs. Sigourney had 42 team kills spread out among seven girls, eight of which came from Maddie Schwenke and seven apiece coming from Kaylee Weber, Heidi Clarahan and Molinari.

Keota’s attack was led by Sprouse and Addison Swanson as Sprouse had six aces and three kills while recording 16 digs and Swanson had five kills, two aces and six digs. Jill Schulte led the team with 19 digs to go along with eight assists and two aces while Jolee Walker led with six kills.

The Lady Eagles traveled to play Columbus Junction on September 25, followed by a home match on September 27 against HLV. Sigourney finished out their week on the road by playing BGM on September 25, followed by a home match against Montezuma on October 1.