CHAPMAN – Both teams were rusty after having at least two weeks off due to COVID concerns, but the match between NCKL rivals Abilene Cowgirls at Chapman Lady Irish couldn’t have gotten any more exciting than it did Thursday evening at Chapman.
With the Irish taking the first set of the second match only to have the Cowgirls tie up the match with a second set win, the Lady Irish jumped out to a comfortable lead in the third set only to see the Cowgirls fight back for a tie and then take the deciding set 26-24 to complete the sweep of the NCKL dual meet.
“It was definitely really exciting in that final match,” Abilene head coach Jade Koch said. “I would prefer it not be like that, but it ended in our favor.”
Abilene won the opening match 25-19, 25-18 and then came back in the second match after being down 16-25, to win the last two sets 25-16, 26-24.
“We played inconsistent in the first match,” Koch said. “We would get a lead and then let them catch up. We can’t get a lead and then dominate to win, we are just struggling with keeping that intensity throughout the entire match.”
The Cowgirls needed everybody contributing in the second match in order to rally back after being down in both of the final sets. Abilene got good serving when it mattered most and they became more consistent at the net in the late stages of both sets.
The Lady Irish came back to the second match a little more energized than the Cowgirls and was able to get a comfortable advantage in the first set. The Cowgirls were just not able to get any consistency going in the first set. Abilene got off to an early lead in the second set only to have the Lady Irish battle back and take a brief lead in the set.
Abilene then went on a roll scoring consecutive points to take a 14-10 lead. Chapman was not able to chip away at the Cowgirl lead and behind solid serving senior Autumn Fitzgerald, Abilene scored the last five points in a row for the 25-16 win.
Chapman took a 5-1 lead in the third set only to watch it go back and forth until Abilene had worked a 9-9 tie that then turned into an 11-9 Cowgirl lead on an Ace by Fitzgerald. The Irish came back with four consecutive points to go ahead 13-11. Abilene junior Emma Wildman placed a kill shot to bring the Cowgirls back for a 13-13 tie.
The Irish then scored three points in a row to lead 16-13 and after Abilene scored Chapman rattled off three more points to take a five-point lead at 19-14. Chapman junior Marie Meuli gave the Irish their biggest lead in the set by drilling an Ace to make it 21-15 Chapman.
The match continued to work back and forth between the two teams and Abilene senior Reagan Ditto tied the match at 22-22 with a kill shot from center net. The Irish battled back to take a 24-22 lead before Abilene junior Jenna Hayes slammed a point for a 24-24 tie. Hayes came back two points later with the winning shot to give the Cowgirls the match.
“We were both off for three weeks and we were both a little rusty,” Koch said. “But still, I told the girls I expected them to come out fighting and fired up, you’ve set for three weeks, leave it all on the court. I don’t think we are doing that yet. We are making errors that we would normally make at the beginning of the season. We’ve got sub-state next weekend and we can’t be making those kind of errors now.”
Abilene (6-8) hosts the Abilene Invitational Tournament on Saturday and will then face Clay Center on the road Monday evening and then host Wamego on Tuesday to end the regular season. Chapman (0-15) travels to Hillsboro and then are scheduled to host a triangular on Tuesday before both teams head to 4A Sub-State at Clay Center next Saturday.
Contact Ron Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abilene defeats Chapman 25-19, 25-18
Abilene defeats Chapman 16-25, 25-16, 26-24
Abilene JV defeats Chapman 25-19, 25-10
Abilene JV defeats Chapman 25-14, 25-16
Abilene 9 defeats Chapman 25-14, 22-25, 15-9
Abilene 9 defeats Chapman 25-7, 25-17