After starting the season by dropping their first four matches, the Abilene Cowgirl volleyball team has jelled as a team by winning 13 of the last 15 matches and with the sweep Tuesday night of NCKL foe Marysville have earned a share of the league championship with the Chapman Lady Irish.
The Cowgirls playing their best volleyball of the year in the first match took care of the Lady Bulldogs in two sets 25-15, 25-16. They followed that up with a win of the second match 26-24, 25-14.
First year head coach Jade Koch was all smiles following the wins and thought her team played solid in the first match and then rallied to get a win in the first set of match two before closing out the night with a big win in the second set.
“When the girls play together they are amazing,” Koch said. “They came out on fire tonight and ready in that first set. I was really pleased with everything, their passing, their setting and their hitting. Everybody was doing their part tonight.”
It was senior recognition night and before the start of the second match, the Cowgirls recognized their senior leaders Beth Holmes, Olivia Howie, Makenna McGivney and Chesney Sprinkle with a thank you ceremony. The four seniors each contributed to the teams two wins Tuesday.
“These four are really going to be hard to beat,” the coach said about her seniors. “They have great attitudes, they work hard and they are great leaders on and off the court. We are really going to miss them. It’s going to be hard to fill those spots next year. I am really happy for them. They got the wins tonight and they get a share of the league title.”
Junior outside hitter Jenna Hayes who blasted 20 kills on the night and hitting at a .461 clip mastered Abilene’s attack of the Lady Bulldogs. Hayes kept the Lady Bulldogs off their mark as she sprayed kill shots down the right line or to the center of the court. From the serve line she was just as deadly, picking up three aces.
“Jenna was on fire,” Koch said. “She played smart. She was hitting shots to all parts of the court and it kept Marysville guessing where she was hitting. She is just an all-around great player. She was just very solid tonight.”
Junior Reagan Ditto had a big first match with six kills including set point in the first set. She also had two big kills in the second match.
Sprinkle finished the match with five kills and two aces and a couple of important blocks while sophomore hitter Emma Wildman had eight kills with six coming in the second match.
Holmes was all over the court putting up 39 assists and when Howie entered the rotation Holmes was able to get some scoring hits along the front line. Howie started the second match and put up five big assists and had an ace at the service line.
The back line of McGivney at the Libero and sophomore Joy Clemence scrambled to get 15 and nine digs respectively, keeping the Cowgirls in the games. Holmes also had six digs on the night.
“Marysville has some really great hitters and if the block wasn’t there tonight then the girls on the back row were doing a great job of digging. Makenna and Joy really produced tonight.”
Junior outside hitter Autumn Fitzgeralds returned to action for the Cowgirls after missing the Council Grove tournament due to injury. Playing mostly on the front line, Fitzgeralds busted eight kills during the night.
Abilene finished its dual play on Tuesday and ended 2019 North Central Kansas League play with an 8-2 mark, dropping both matches to Concordia early in the season.
With a record of 20-12, the Cowgirls currently set at fifth place in the Class 4A West division and have the Abilene Invitational Tournament on Saturday to round out the regular season. Sub-State action will be played Saturday, Oct. 26 at the home schools of the top four seeds. Currently those four are Andale (28-1), Towanda Circle (23-5), Chapman (19-8) and Nickerson (24-12). Andale has matches with McPherson and Winfield next week while Circle will play at a tournament this weekend and then meet up with Augusta and El Dorado to wrap up their year.
Chapman will face Smoky Valley and fourth place Nickerson next week at the Smoky Valley Triangular.