Defense sparks Wolves to district repeat
Class D district volleyball
CARNEY — Nobody said it’d be easy, but the Carney-Nadeau Wolves retained their Class D district volleyball title Thursday night in a 3-1 (25-15, 23-25, 25-17, 25-22) triumph over the Stephenson Eagles.
The victory sends the Wolves to the regional tournament at Westwood where they’ll face Forest Park Tuesday night.
“I thought we played good defense and Stephenson played excellent defense,” said Carney coach Steve Kedsch. “They didn’t give us anything. I just thought it was good volleyball all around.”
Carney led 24-22 following a service error in the final set. Moments later, the Wolves secured the decision on a kill by senior Sarah Jackson.
“We needed an aggressive hit,” said Jackson, who finished with 13 kills and 20 digs. “I didn’t want to give them a freeball. I’d rather be aggressive for our team. Without the set from our setter where would I stand. It was a collective effort by our whole team. I just happened to get the last point.”
Stephenson trailed 13-7 following a service error in the finale, but eventually took a 17-15 lead on a hitting miscue by the Wolves.
The Wolves, however, regained the lead for good (20-19) on a kill by senior Breanne Bedgood, then took advantage of a few Eagles’ miscues.
“I thought we’d get that fourth set,” said Eagles’ coach Sara Johnson. “Then, we had those mental errors when the score was in the 20s, which is dangerous. Although, we were good competitors. We fought hard. We just came up a little short.”
Carney trailed 17-12 in the second set, then rallied to tie the score at 23 on a block by senior Sara Sivula. Defensive and hitting miscues, however, foiled the Wolves, leaving the match tied at a set apiece.
The Wolves scored the first four points in the third. The Eagles then scored the next three, but never led in that set.
“I thought we played well in the second set,” said Kedsch. “Stephenson just outplayed us. It was nice to get little bit of a lead in the third set and our momentum carried over into the fourth. Give Stephenson credit. They did not quit.”
Carney also led throughout the opening set, scoring the first five points. Stephenson came within 12-10 on a Wolves’ hitting error, but didn’t get any closer.
Sivula collected 21 kills, two blocks and 23 digs. Bedgood finished with 33 digs. Junior Alanis Harris added 27. Classmate Talisha McCullough tallied 24 assists and 18 digs. Talisha McCullough had 18 assists and 13 digs.
“We’ve been working for this since the beginning of the season,” said Sivula. “Stephenson is a solid all-around team. We definitely didn’t want to lose the second set, but that’s the way it went. We just wanted to keep up our intensity and it felt awesome to take the third set. Intensity is what brought us to this match. It was very emotional. We didn’t want the season to end. This was an intense match which is just what we needed going into the regional. I’m very excited.”
Carney struggled with serve receives early in the match when junior Jenny Johnson was at the service line. After allowing her four aces in the opener, the Wolves adjusted and allowed her just one through the remainder of the match.
“I think Jenny gave us a lift with her serving,” said coach Johnson. “I thought they struggled with her serves at first. I’m real proud of the girls. Our serve receives weren’t bad. We normally don’t play teams that can hit like they do.”
Sophomore Emily Johnson led the Eagles with five kills, 11 assists and 31 digs. Classmate Karlee Kuntze added five kills and 30 digs and junior Autumn Rasner had 21 digs.
“They (Eagles) were definitely a challenge,” said Jackson. “They covered, dug and served great. Our team is what it is because of the coach we have and the girls we have. Our coach is constantly pushing us in practice. This was a hard district. North Dickinson was also a hard match (Wednesday) and Hannahville made us earn our points (Monday).”
Carney-Nadeau — Jackson (two aces, 13 kills, 20 digs); Bedgood (two aces, six kills, 33 digs); Blahnik-Thoune (two aces, two kills, two blocks, 18 assists, 13 digs); Sivula (21 kills, two blocks, 23 digs); Harris (three kills, 27 digs); Belec (three kills, three digs); McCullough (24 assists, 18 digs).
Stephenson — J. Johnson (five aces, three kills); E. Johnson (five kills, 11 assists, 31 digs); Kuntze (five kills, 30 digs); Thoune (three kills, three blocks, five assists); Anderson (two kills); Rasner (21 digs).