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New-look lineup leads Roncalli past Redfield

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Ava Hanson, center and teammate Jeci Ewart (9) celebrate winning a point during Thursday night’s match against Redfield at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 9/2/2021

It was not the normal look, but it proved to be effective.

Using a different lineup due to injuries, Aberdeen Roncalli still found a way to record a 25-13, 25-21, 25-15 Northeast Conference volleyball sweep over Redfield at Roncalli Gym Thursday night.

“Obviously, we had a different lineup tonight than we had the other night with only one night to adjust and make those changes. We even left practice (Wednesday) not 100 percent certain what everything was going to look like,” said Roncalli coach Mandy Smid. “Credit to the girls, they really bought into what I laid out for them, no questions asked. I thought that they just did an excellent job executing.”

With leading hitter Madelyn Bragg as well as Taylor Bennett on the bench, Smid pointed out the efforts of Ava Hanson, Jaidyn Feickert and Maddie Huber. Jeci Ewart also played middle back for the first time.

“Obviously, there were mistakes here and there, but overall, they owned them and moved on to the next point and really just finished,” Smid said.

The new-look lineup impacted both teams differently.

For Roncalli, it meant stepping up with Bragg out of the lineup.

“I feel like since she wasn’t there we knew that we had to step up and just play a lot harder,” Ewart said. “I think a lot of people just stepped up their game.”

The mood was much different on the opposite side of the net.

“I think the impact it had was our girls were like ‘Oh, they’re not playing we can kind of let up.’ Once you let up, the momentum right away goes to Roncalli,” said Redfield coach Joel Osborn. “They hit the ball hard and served hard, and we were just a step behind the whole night.”

Another big factor was the energy in the building. The Roncalli student body made itself known and the players fed off of that energy.

“When everyone is cheering and loud it really brings our mood up, and helps us get hyped for the game,” Ewart said.

Ewart and Ella Hanson each had 14 kills. Ewart finished with four blocks and Hanson 31 digs. Hayley Schmidt contributed three aces and 25 digs.

Ewart said she can tell the squad is making progress being able to use a different rotation and still performing well.

“With our rotation changing tonight, I can tell that all of us are getting more used to everything,” Ewart said, “and it’s going to help us in the long run.”

The Cavaliers improved to 3-1 on the season. They head to Waubay to face Waubay-Summit on Tuesday.

Smid liked the confidence and energy the Cavaliers displayed against Redfield.

“Volleyball is such a mental sport,” Smid said. “If we can learn how to have that energy night to night against any team, it’s really going to make a huge difference.”

Serving: Redfield 45-46 3 aces (Camryn Rohlfs 9-9 1 ace); Aberdeen Roncalli 63-69 9 aces (Hayley Schmidt 15-16 3 aces, Olivia Hanson 14-14 2 aces, Jaidyn Feickert 11-12 2 aces).

Hitting: Redfield 37-51 8 kills (Gracie Fast 19-23 5 kills); Aberdeen Roncalli 78-91 42 kills (Jeci Ewart 25-28 14 kills, Ella Hanson 21-14 14 kills, Ava Hanson 14-16 7 kills).

Setting: Redfield 71-71 8 assists (Rohlfs 62-62 8 assists); Aberdeen Roncalli 72-72 36 assists (O. Hanson 72-72 36 assists).

Digs: Redfield 48 (Denae Paulsen 11, Rohlfs 10, Fast 10); Aberdeen Roncalli 108 (E. Hanson 31, Schmidt 25).

Blocks: Redfield 3 solos 4 assists (Katie Rozell 3 solos 2 assists); Aberdeen Roncalli 4 solos 8 assists (Ewart 2 solos 2 assists, A. Hanson 2 solo 2 assists).

Records: Redfield 2-1; Aberdeen Roncalli 3-1.

JV: Aberdeen Roncalli 2-0.

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