Spartans bounce back for win against Panthers
By Josh Staloch
LUXEMBURG – Down two sets to none at home against Oconto Falls, the Luxemburg-Casco volleyball team looked like it was headed for its first North Eastern Conference defeat of the season.
Instead, the Spartans put together a terrific third-set win and then went on to take the next two and claim the match 22-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-11, 15-13.
“Give a lot of credit to Oconto Falls,” said L-C head coach Jeff Frey, whose team is now 20-7 overall, 4-0 in conference. “They came in and attacked us from the outset. They had us on our heels the first two sets. But one of the things we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks is how we respond to adversity and how we can be resilient. That’s what I’m most proud of tonight. Our backs were against the wall but the resiliency we’ve been talking about showed.”
After losing two hard-fought sets to begin the match, the Spartans got off to an aggressive start in the third with some big play at the net from Ella VanderVelden, who had a couple of early kills to keep L-C on pace with Oconto Falls.
The Spartans fell behind 9-5 before getting back on track thanks to an ace from Aubrey Frey and then a big kill from Miranda Schmidt.
The two teams traded scores throughout the third set but it was clear that the Spartans weren’t going to be shut down so easily on their home court.
Jacinda Bennett evened the score at 11-11 with an emphatic kill before L-C took the lead on an ace from Rylan Kaminski.
Later in the third, a nice kill from Frey, followed by back-to-back aces from VanderVelden put the Spartans up 20-14 and the team carried that momentum all the way to the end of the frame, which was decided by a block at the net from Bennett and VanderVelden.
“Honestly, when things are tough, we just find ways to come together as a team, to build each other up,” said L-C’s VanderVelden, who finished the evening with 12 kills, four blocks and three aces. “We pushed through tonight, knowing that, eventually, momentum shifts. Everything was up from there.”
The Spartans didn’t let up at all to begin the fourth frame. Jillian Jorgensen got things going on the first point with a hard-fired kill shot. Frey made it 3-0 with another kill, followed by two kills in a row from VanderVelden, prompting a timeout called by the Panthers.
L-C jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the fourth set and never looked back.
Senior Payton Kaminsk, who turned in 18 digs and five aces, made some big plays to keep points alive for the Spartans in the third while also having some steady stints at the service line.
The deciding set was very competitive, with long points and few mistakes as the two teams scrambled to get to 15 first.
The Spartans fell behind at one point, down 20-9 but a kill from Bennett got the team back on track. L-C took the lead on the next point thanks to a nice push shot from Schmidt.
A block by Bennett and another huge kill from Jorgensen put it away for the Spartans.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors, a lot of leaders on our team,” said coach Frey. “I think they just set the tone of, we’re fine, we’ve got to play our game. Getting off to a fast start in that third set helped. We served aggressively, had them out of system and we neutralized them a little bit those last three sets.”
Alayna Deprez finished with 41 assists and eight digs, Frey added 21 kills, 17 digs and three aces, Schmidt had nine kills and Brooke Vande Hei had 18 digs.