The Milbank Lady Bulldogs pushed their high school volleyball matchup with the Webster Area Bearcats to five sets on Thursday, September 5. The locals gave all they had, but eventually fell 3-2 in the contest. “I really like to see
that we are competitive and keep working and battling,” stated head coach Nancy Hoeke. “Webster had some good hitters; they are a good team. I’m proud of the girls for their perseverance, because I know there were frustrating moments. Our girls didn’t let it drag them down and seemed to shake it off and kept going.”
The Lady Bulldogs started out solid in the first set. The locals soared ahead at 16-8 and maintained their drive to win the set at 25-17. Trouble ensued in the second set. Milbank fell behind at 5-15 midway through the match. The Lady Bulldogs went on a short run late in the set with the help of blocks by Madi Thue and Elsie Rogers and a set kill by Amy Nelson. Webster then belted out three kills to win the match at 25-19. “I think with better blocking we could do a better job to slow down the hitters,” added Hoeke. “That is something that I will work on and do at practice.”
The teams continued to battle in the third set by knotting the score early at 4-4, 9-9, and 11-11. The Bearcats went on a short run to go ahead at 12-17. Milbank inched forward to 19-23 with several errors by Webster Area, but could not close the gap and fell 25-21. With the opponent leading the match at 2-1, Milbank faced a do or die situation. Again,
the Lady Bulldogs fell behind early in the set at 7-11. They remained behind at 12-20 but would not give up. Milbank inched its way closer with errors by the Bearcats, a kill by Nelson, and a serving ace by Tracy Pillatzki to pull to within two points at 21-23. Nelson added another kill and Webster hit the ball into the net to even the score up at 23-23. The teams teetered back and forth, but Milbank secured the comeback win at 26-24 with two final kills by Rogers and Jaecy Engebretson.
“It was a huge comeback for us being down 12-20,” expressed Hoeke. “Webster started doing a lot of tipping and our defense adjusted and was keeping those ball alive. We had a big momentum swing which put pressure on Webster. Their hitter had eight hitting errors during that time. It was a lot of fun to win the set and force the fifth set.”
The fifth and deciding set started out tight with the score going back and forth. Thue belted out three kills, Engebretson two, and Pillatzki, one to give Milbank the 8-7 advantage.
The locals committed six unforced errors to deflate their sails and dropped the set 15-9. “I give Webster credit,” said Hoeke. “It is a big blow to be ahead 20-12 in the fourth set and go on to lose. But they didn’t come out in the fifth pouting or defeated. They kept up the pace and put pressure on our serve receive and our defense. We had some unfortunate unforced errors in the fifth which didn’t help our cause. We competed excellent, but making certain errors obviously makes it tough to seal the deal.”
Engebretson led the Lady Bulldog attack with 17 kills on 51-63 hitting. She also added one ace on 14-14 serving and had one block. Thue followed closely with 16 kills on 35-38 hitting, one ace on 13-16 serving, 14 digs, and one block.
Nelson had 17 assists on 68-68 setting, one ace on 15-16 serving and 16 digs while Hallie Schulte went 35-35 setting with nine assists. Rounding out the team leaders were Pillatzki, one ace on 18-20 serving and one block; Rogers with one block, and Cassidy Christians with 23 digs.
Earlier in the evening, the Milbank C team fell 2-0 with scores of 13-25 and 14-25, and the junior varsity dropped 2-0 with set scores of 19-25 and 14-25.
Photo –Madi Thue