Frequently, when the box score in a volleyball game is 3-0, it’s fair to think the game was a blowout, a sign of one team’s domination. That wasn’t the case Sept. 24 as Horizon narrowly …
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Frequently, when the box score in a volleyball game is 3-0, it’s fair to think the game was a blowout, a sign of one team’s domination.
That wasn’t the case Sept. 24 as Horizon narrowly defeated Boulder (6-8, 1-2 in conference) at “The Nest” in a hard-fought seventh win of the season.
It started with an entertaining opening set in which the lead changed hands five times and had six ties. Quality play at the net from the lengthy Lady Panthers the first 16 points of the contest (8-8 score at time) put stress on the home team. However, the powerful senior and captain of the Lady Hawks, Lauren Strain, began to put her imprint on the set the rest of the way. Accounting for four blocks in a stretch of four points — in which Horizon went from a 16-14 lead to a 20-14 lead — helped stamp the set victory claiming nine of the final 10 points.
“It’s partly conditioning, it’s partly our practice, and these girls love to spot teams points,” Horizon coach Erik Devereux said with a chuckle postgame. “I don’t know what it is. They (Horizon) might feel like they want to start behind and then come back and win, because it feels better that way, but it gives me a little more high blood pressure than I need. There is no quit in these girls. Their hustling every play, and if they make a mistake, they let it go, and are onto the next play.”
A little changed in set No. 2 as Horizon held the lead the entirety of the frame. Jumping out to a 9-5 lead, Boulder — as they did all night — fought back. Closing the margin to 18-17, monumental points from junior Maci Wiesinger (kill) at 22-17 and senior Samantha Steiner (block) to close it put things at 2-0.
The final, most grueling set is when Horizon showed their grit. It all started when junior setter Logan Kuehn carried the team to seven straight points as a server. Expanding their lead to 17-9, things looked bleak for Boulder. However, the Lady Panthers reclaimed the lead 19-18 after senior Maia Scott’s beautiful touch shot — putting momentum on the away-team side.
Tying it again at 23, the Lady Hawks put the game in the hands of their senior Johannah Wilmes to account for a couple of crucial points.
A few moments later, Horizon found themselves up 25-24 after the Strain kill. Looking to clinch their second conference win, Boulder bounced back — jumping out ahead 26-25. After three ties, a Wilmes kill put the Hawks up 29-28 at game point. That’s when a senior came up a ton in Hannah Ton. After possession exchanged a few times between both clubs, a blocked shot by Ton put the Boulder attack on rest and Horizon another in the win column.
“There are a lot of tough teams in this conference, and we have played some really good games against some good teams, and we have played some bad games against the not top 10 teams,” Devereux said. “But, having that said, I think we are one of the better teams in the league, and we just need to keep pushing and playing our game.”
With 12 of the team’s 35 kills, Wilmes came up large in crucial opportunities all evening helping her team, and fans leave with smiles on their faces. Her coach knows her importance of a squad led by five seniors.
“She’s just a leader on this team. We have captains — she’s not one of our captains — but she’s one of our biggest leaders. She’s just one of the best all-around players, and she has probably one of the highest volleyball IQ’s on the team. She knows the game. She’s comfortable with pretty much every position she’s playing and anything that comes at her.”
A night later, Horizon ended their week strong with a 3-2 win over Loveland on the road. Winners of five in their last six, the Lady Hawks (8-3, 3-1 in conference) look to stay hot Oct. 3 at Fairview (9-1, 2-1 in conference).
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