By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week the Manchester volleyball season came to a close for the Manchester Lady Dutch volleyball team.
They fell in the first round of regional play on Tuesday Nov. 7 at Vandercook Lake high school against number two ranked Monroe St. Maryâ€™s Catholic Central (SMCC) by a 3-1 set count (16-25, 25-23, 23-25, 22-25).
After dropping the first set, 16-25, Manchester head coach Trisca Beasley said the team had some nerves heading into the matchup that showed in the first set.
Once they settled in they gave SMCC all they could handle before falling 3-1, that was much closer than the set count might indicate and could have easily gone to a fifth set.
In the second set the Lady Dutch pulled out the win, 25-22, with strong defense leading to offensive chances. Dig after dig was made against a tall and athletic lineup of outside hitters for SMCC.
In the third set, however, a problem that has plagued the Lady Dutch all season crept back into play. After Manchester went up 23-16, SMCC scored nine straight to come back and win the set.
A main issue the team had throughout the season was letting opponents back into games late or having to make a late push for a win.
Up to this point in the postseason, after winning the Cascades conference and the District title, they had minimized many of their errors and had been improving in all facets of the game.
Beasley knew that letting an opponent of this caliber hang around was not something they could afford to do.
“They like to come from behind and I told them yesterday you can’t come from behind against a team like this. We had to jump out ahead and stay ahead,” said Beasley.
That third set win gave SMCC the momentum shift it needed after the second set win by the Lady Dutch. Although it was another battle to the end in the final set, SMCC prevailed 25-22 to win the regional semifinal and advance to the title game.
Junior Jayden Humphrey (15) and sophomore Kayla Engel (10) led the team in kills.
Junior Avery Collins (5 total) and sophomore Natalie Bargardi (4 total) led the team in blocks, giving the Lady Dutch many offensive chances by getting many tips to allow the back row a chance to get to the ball.
In her final game senior libero Lauren Sprau had a great game. She led the team with 25 digs, diving after shots and bumping spike after spike from SMCC hitters. Humphrey (22), Engel (13) and freshman Kayla Ridenour (9) rounded out the dig leaders for the Lady Dutch.
A year where Manchester was replacing seven seniors turned out to be fantastic season, the Lady Dutch finished with a 37-13-3 record that included an eight and nine game win streak.
Like any team, they would have liked to move on, but Beasley was proud of this year’s team and is looking forward to the future.
“It’s been a great season, it’s been a great group of girls,” said Beasley. “I am truly looking forward to next year, I’m looking at going a lot farther. I don’t think that after that game a lot of teams will not know who we are,”