The Lady Bulldogs put up a good fight but could not secure a victory. They fell 3-1 to the Groton Area Tigers in semi-final action of the Region 1A high school volleyball tournament Thursday, November 2, in Groton.
“The match was intense and exciting most of the way through,” said Lady Bulldog Head Coach Nancy Hoeke. “I am proud of the girls for constantly coming back and playing hard. Groton has quality serving, attacking, and defense. I feel they beat us with good execution of those skills. We gave them everything we had, but just fell short.”
Milbank Area jumped out to an early 5-1 lead. Groton Area eased their way back to even the score at 14-14, and the Lady Bulldogs trailed by one point at 22-23. Three consecutive kills by Molly Rick gave Milbank Area the 25-23 first set victory.
The Lady Bulldogs struggled in the second set, and fell behind at 8-0. They dropped to the Lady Tigers 13-25. “The second set was basically awful,” said Coach Hoeke. “We were plagued with errors and serve-receive really struggled.”
In the third set, Milbank Area held a 10-9 lead, but found themselves trailing by one point at 18-19. Groton Area went on a six-point run to win the set at 18-25.
In the fourth set, the the score was tied eight times until, at 21-21, Groton Area made two back-to-back kills to take the lead at 21-23. Rick pounded down another kill to pull to within one point at 22-23. A Groton kill and a Lady Bulldog hitting error ended the season for Milbank Area at 22-25.
“We put ourselves in a position to win each set,” said Coach Hoeke. “We just needed a few points and a few calls of the officials to go the other way and who knows how it may have changed each game. We had small leads, lots of ties back and forth and comebacks that kept us alive when we needed them.”
Rick led the Lady Bulldogs with 25 kills on 73-83 hitting, 10-11 serving, and 39 digs. Jaecy Engebretson had 13 kills on 55-62 hitting, two aces on 18-20 serving, 11 assists on 48-48 setting, and 22 digs. Makayla Johnson produced eight kills on 20-26 hitting, one ace on 10-11 serving, eight digs, and one assisted block. Jaden Hoeke added five kills on 18-24 hitting, 9-11 serving, seven digs, and two assisted blocks.
Gabbi Cummins made three kills on 27-29 hitting, one ace on 12-12 serving, 11 assists on 27-29 setting, 22 digs, and two solo and one assisted blocks. Maty Lightfield had 26 assists on 104-106 setting, one ace on 13-14 serving, and 26 digs. Tonya Meyer had 12 digs. Katie Wollschlager had seven digs.
Four seniors ended their high school volleyball careers: Molly Rick, Maty Lightfield, Katie Vander Wal, and Sadie Holland. “The seniors had a good night,” said Coach Hoeke. “Molly led us in kills and digs. I believe 25 kills is her high for this season. Maty led us in setting with 26 assists.”
Photo: Senior Maty Lightfield.