Knights cancel Falcons’ flight, move on to regional finals

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Once again the Kuemper Catholic volleyball team has earned their way to the regional finals.

Although their path to get there was a little unconventional this season. Sure, the Knights were able to earn a 3-0 win over OA-BCIG, but it was one that had a few twists in it.

Early on in the first set the Knights were trailing the Falcons. Part of the reason why the Falcons were able to grab an early lead over the Knights, the No. 2 ranked team in class 3A was because of the experience they were playing with.

“OA-BCIG was an all senior based team with a lot of experience,” said Keith Stickrod, the head coach for the Kuemper volleyball team. “This was a great test. The girls overcame a strong challenge in the first set and was a battle all night.”

Throughout the first set neither team ever seemed to get comfortable in their game play. With Kuemper’s high-powered offense nor working right away the Falcon defense was able to settle under early attacks and set up their own offense.

With the Falcons controlling how the offense played out in the first set they were able to build a threatening lead in the first. Kuemper overcame that started to find their hits.

Although they had trailed through much of the first part of the set the Knights overcame the deficit and reversed the lead. Eventually, the Knights won the first set 25-23.

After the fans and probably some of the Kuemper team caught their breath they went right back to work in the second. This time there wasn’t any drama as the Knights won 25-17 to take the lead.

They finished off the Falcons in the third set with a 25-13 victory, punching their ticket to the regional finals.

“We struggle at time when the other team pushes the ball deep,” Stickrod said. “I thought Kara (Peter) and Kenya (Prescott) did a great job of staying patience and made some big saves.”

Mallory Badding led the Knights on Tuesday with 28 digs. Peter finished the match with 13 digs. Prescott added six digs.

Anna Niehaus finished with nine digs. Kenzie Schon added seven. Both Ashlyn Badding and Mariah Naberhaus both finished the match with four digs each.

The Knights hit .257 on Tuesday night, led by 22 kills from Peter. Bethany Schleisman finished with seven kills. Niehaus added six. Schon added four kills and Madison Leonard finished with three.

Three of the five team blocks came from Sophie Badding. Peter, Schon and Leonard all added one block each.

Ashlyn Badding and Naberhaus both had 20 assists in the match.

Kuemper will play again on Monday night when they travel to Storm Lake to play Humboldt.

Earlier this season at a season-opening Humboldt tournament the Knights beat the Wildcats 2-1.

“We are going to have work much harder against Humboldt in the regional finals,” Stickrod said. “We know what we have to work on and ready for the challenge.”

Humboldt is led by junior hitter Jori Hajek who has 308 kills on the team, more than 100 more than her next closest teammate. The Wildcats seem to be a one passer team with junior Deni McDaniel leading the way with 840 assists. The next closest player, senior Claire Varangkounh, has 36.

The Wildcats make up for their somewhat predictable offense by being a scrappy team. They are led by Carlie Thompson who has 355 digs. Hajek has added 339 digs this year. McDaniel has 234 throughout the season.

The winner of Monday’s match will make an appearance in the class 3A State tournament. For Kuemper they are trying to return to the State tournament after winning last season.

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