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Roncalli sweeps Deuel in home opener

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Ella Hanson, right, hits the ball past Deuel’s McKenna Olson, left, during Thursday night’s match at the Aberdeen Roncalli High School gym. In the background for the Cavaliers is Hayley Schmidt. Photo by John Davis taken 8/26/2021

From racking up 38 kills on the front line to recording 10 aces from the service line, Aberdeen Roncalli was in control in its home opener on Thursday night.

The Cavaliers swept past Deuel 25-16, 25-14, 25-18 in Northeast Conference volleyball action at Roncalli Gym.

While Roncalli did not drop a set, the Cavaliers had a tough time finding the same energy and spark they had on Tuesday in a loss to Northwestern, according to Cavaliers coach Mandy Smid.

“We just got done talking about how the energy tonight is definitely different. I mean you can’t really compare a lot of places to Northwestern,” Smid said after she came out of the locker room following the victory. “We talked a lot about how the energy we had on Tuesday night vs. what we had here, that’s always something we can reflect on as ourselves and show up and still have that, even though maybe it’s not that intense level of play coming from the other side.”

Before the season started, Smid pointed out how every match is crucial in a chase for seed points. She wants her players to focus on the little details each time they step on the court.

“Just doing those little things and rounding ourselves out, if its our expectation at the end of the year that we’re going to play at a high level, then we have to do those little things in the here and now every night, and no matter who we’re playing so that it’s just second nature,” Smid said.

The Cavaliers pulled away from an 11-10 lead in the final set as Madelyn Bragg connected on a pair of kills to fuel a closing surge to finish off the sweep.

Bragg was a thorn in the Cardinals’ side the entire evening. The 6-foot-3 senior took advantage of her opportunities and pounded out a match-high 17 kills. Ella Hanson made her presence felt with a dozen kills.

Roncalli also featured a balanced serving attack led by Hayley Schmidt with three aces. Olivia Hanson, Jaidyn Feickert and Taylor Bennett each finished with a pair of ace serves.

While Smid was pleased with the sweep, she spotted a few things the team needs to work on, especially considering the high expectations of the upcoming season.

“A win is a win, but when you start boiling it down to what our expectations are, and what it is we’re trying to achieve, we have to push ourselves a little harder to make sure we’re getting on and off the net as fast as we possibly can, no matter what the circumstances are,” Smid said. “We talked a lot about having our feet set and ready as blockers so that we can just get up there and be ready, whether it’s a ball that just comes over the net accidentally or that it’s intentional, so we can get those plays that give us the energy that we’re looking for.”

Roncalli, 1-1 on the season, hosts Miller on Tuesday night at Roncalli Gym, before hosting Redfield on Thursday evening.

“We’re happy to be at home these first few games of the season as we’re really kind of figuring out our pieces and how everything is going to work together,” Smid said.

Aberdeen Roncalli 25-25-25, Deuel 16-14-18

Serving: Deuel 3 aces (Josie Andersen 7-8 2 aces, Haille Bury 6-6 1 ace); Aberdeen Roncalli 10 aces (Hayley Schmidt 12-13 3 aces, Olivia Hanson 14-14 2 aces, Jaidyn Feickert 15-18 2 aces, Taylor Bennett 8-10 2 aces).

Hitting: Deuel 20 kills (Andersen 15-16 8 kills, Haley Winter 13-15 8 kills); Aberdeen Roncalli 38 (Madelyn Bragg 30-30 17 kills, Ella Hanson 24-27 12 kills).

Setting: Deuel (Gracie Fieber 31-32 9 assists, Alyson Hagberg 39-42 5 assists); Aberdeen Roncalli (O. Hanson 89-89 35 assists).

Digs: Deuel 39 (Winter 15, Andersen 8); Aberdeen Roncalli 93 (Schmidt 21, E. Hanson 21).

Blocks: Deuel 2 solos (Winter 1, McKenna Olson 1); Aberdeen Roncalli 1 solo 4 assists (Bragg 1 solo 2 assists, Feickert 1 assist, Ava Hanson 1 assist).

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