HUTCHINSON, KS – After dropping a pair of matches on day one of Hutchinson’s Blue Dragon Classic, Indian Hills bounced back nicely on Saturday with a pair of victories, giving the Warriors some much-needed momentum as they resume conference play this week.
Saturday’s opener against Pratt (KS) found IHCC ready to go from the jump as the Warriors pounced on the Beavers, producing leads of 8-2, and 17-11 before polishing off the first set 25-18.
“Overall, it was a great team effort,” said IHCC head coach Lyndsey Michel. “Defensively our passing was much stronger, allowing for high execution results from the front row.”
Set two was more of the same against Pratt as the Warriors broke open what was a tight 17-14 match midway through into a 25-16 rout.
After seeing late leads and momentum evaporate the day before, the Warriors would not be denied in this one as IHCC darted out to a 10-2 advantage in the third set and never let the Beavers any closer than four points the rest of the way in completing the sweep, 25-14.
Leading the passing game was sophomore Cassia Lemos who dished out 30 assists and added 8 digs and was perfect at the service line going 11-for-11. Jenna Vallee led the team in kills with eight in addition to contributing five digs, and 11-for-11 serves and 2 aces. Sophomore Gabriela Cavalcante Oliveira had another solid contest with 5 kills and 14 digs, while Jarolin de los Santos added five kills and two blocks. Jentry Schafer and Anja Vranic helped the Warrior attack from the service stripe with 18-of-19 and 15-of-15 serves, respectively.
Yesterday’s nightcap produced arguably the best win of the season to this point as the Warriors downed a Mineral Area (MO) squad that that entered the weekend at 5-1 and was receiving votes in the NJCAA Top 25 poll.
The Warriors battered the Cards in the first two sets, however, using repeated attacks led by Vallee and emerging hitter Precious Daley in taking the opening stanza 25-23 and the second, 25-20.
The third set had IHCC in position to complete a straight-set victory as a Daley kill pulled the Warriors to within 20-19 after trailing 20-16 moments earlier, but the Cards ran off five straight to force a fourth set.
“Our let up in that third set was due to some hitting errors and missed serves, but our battle and energy that the girls brought throughout is exactly what we’ve been needing, and exactly why we finished the match,” Michel added.
And finish they did, as Indian Hills fought off set point at 24-23 to eventually garner a 27-25 clincher, handing the Warriors their third win of the season.
“That was a huge team effort against a solid Mineral Area squad,” Michel added. “Precious Daley is coming along great in her role as an outside hitter. Defensively, adjustments have been made right on time, in the right spots.”
Oliveira led the Warrior front row with 13 kills and was complemented by Vallee and Daley each adding 12 of their own. Lemos had all 48 of IHCC’s assists in the win over Mineral Area and chipped in 14 digs. Vranic and Vallee shared top honors in the dig category with 17 each.
Friday’s results were not as kind for the Warriors as they were swept in three games by Missouri State-West Plains before falling in four sets to the hosts from Hutchinson.
The loss to West Plains was particularly frustrating as IHCC held late leads in all three sets before ultimately succumbing to the Grizzlys in each of the three battles, 25-21, 25-22 and 26-24. Sets one and two saw the Warriors ahead 19-17 and 22-18, respectively before West Plains put together rallies. Set three had IHCC up as late as 23-22 before taking the straight-set loss.
“It wasn’t the start we were hoping for on the weekend, but we really battled in the third set and couldn’t quite get over the hump,” Michel noted. “Progress was made and we are working hard to settle in with a lineup that has a sufficient tempo to get the job done.”
Daley, Vallee and Oliveira all had seven kills against West Plains while Lemos added 18 assists and 11 digs. Hennesys Lalane chipped in 10 assists and 8 digs while Vranic led the squad in digs with 21. Schafer was 12-for-12 from the service line with an ace.
While Friday’s nightcap produced another defeat, the Warrior head coach found a silver lining in the 3-1 loss (23-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-17) to Hutchinson.
“The team that showed up for Hutchinson was a team that battled,” Michel said. “We may be missing a piece of the puzzle but we turned a corner in that set. The score and the hit percentage may not show it, but as a team, they supported each other the best they have all season, and that’s exactly what they needed to do to see what they are capable of when they completely support each other.”
Daley, Oliveira and Vallee led the front-row attack with 16, 10 and 9 kills, respectively. Lemos had 41 assists, 24 digs and was 18-of-18 serving with 3 aces. Vranic led the team with 31 digs and was 15-of-15 serving. Sophomore Bailea Yahnke was 15-of-16 serving with 3 aces and added 10 digs.
It’ll be a busy week ahead for the Warriors (3-5) as they take part in three ICCAC battles. IHCC will host Iowa Central at 6 p.m. on Wednesday before welcoming Southwestern on Friday at 5 p.m. The Warriors will travel to Estherville on Sunday to face Iowa Lakes at 1 p.m.