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Eagles rally for win in home opener

Aberdeen Central’s Grace Kuch, right, hits the ball as Spearfish’s Brylee Grubb, left and KyleeJo Symonds, center, defend the net during Friday night’s match at the Golden Eagles Arena. Kuch led the team with 14 kills. Photo by John Davis taken 9/10/2021

Aberdeen Central was looking for a good start in its home opener, instead the Golden Eagles delivered a strong finish.

Central overcame a sluggish start to claim a 19-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-11 non-conference volleyball win over Spearfish at Golden Eagles Arena Friday night.

After a passive first set, Central found itself tied with the Spartans at 15-15 in the second set when the match completely turned. The Eagles became more aggressive from the service line and at the net and took control.

“It was a whole different match. Our kids just settled in. We had some nervous kids before this match,” said Central coach Jackie Bindenagel. “Hopefully, they got that out of their system, but I’m really happy with how they recovered.”

A big factor in the comeback was Central’s serving, which produced eight aces. A variety of players stepped up to the line with confidence and soon got Spearfish out of system.

“That was kind of our game plan going in, is find those seams when we were serving and we didn’t,” Bindenagel said. “In the first set we just served it nice and easy to them, and then we had to play defense a lot more.”

Once the serves started clicking so did Central’s front row.

Grace Kuch found a spot to her liking and Spearfish never took the cross-court angle away from her.

“I don’t know, I kind of thought they would be taking it away from me,” Kuch said, “but I kept looking over the block and it was still open, so I just went there every single time and it kept working for me.”

Kuch finished with a match-high 14 kills. Karly Wellman followed with nine.

“Grace has got good court instincts, but their defense was really shifted over and then Karly Wellman found up and over the block a little bit, too,” Bindenagel said. “We really focused on our backrow talking to our hitters, because they have full view of that court.”

The backrow played a key role in the victory as well, producing 57 digs, led by Sydney Evans with 20.

While Central pounded out 46 kills, Kuch said the attacking wouldn’t be possible without the backrow defense.

“It was a great team effort,” Kuch said. “Without a backrow, we wouldn’t be able to do any of that. I’m so proud of them.”

Central moved to 4-2 with the win and finally got a chance to play at home.

“After five games away we were all ready for a home match,” Kuch said. “We were tired of traveling and it just felt good to get a first win at our home.”

The Eagles host Sturgis at 1:30 this afternoon.

Serving: Aberdeen Central 8 aces (Arylie Waldo 2, Abby Berry 2, Sydney Evans 2, Meghan Mork 1, Camryn Bain 1).

Hitting: Aberdeen Central 46 kills (Grace Kuch 14, Karly Wellman 9, Kiana Mounga 8).

Setting: Aberdeen Central 37 assists (Berry 35 assists).

Digs: Aberdeen Central 57 (Evans 20, Anna Malchow 10, Mork 8, Berry 8).

Blocks: Aberdeen Central 5 solos 5 assists (Taryn Nieman 3 solos 1 assist, Mounga 1 solo 2 assists, Madi Struble 2 assists).

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