It was definite improvement, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Aberdeen Roncalli pushed Belle Fourche to the brink before falling in a hard-fought 22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 22-25, 15-11 non-conference volleyball match Friday afternoon at Roncalli Gym.
“It couldn’t be much closer of a match, actually,” said Roncalli coach Mandy Smid.
It proved to be a much different contest than the first encounter when the Broncs swept Roncalli 2-0.
“I think that today we had more time. We played earlier in the year at the Lennox Tournament so we only had two sets to compete against them,” said Roncalli junior Ella Hanson. “We really worked hard, worked as a team and scrambled to get the ball back over the net. We were diving after every single ball.”
Roncalli’s all-out effort left an impression on Belle Fourche coach Loree Schlichtemeier.
“Roncalli is super scrappy. Nothing hits the floor and everything comes back over,” she said. “I think that was the big difference today. They really worked on that. They talk really well. The communication is really good.”
It was a tight match the entire way. Belle Fourche pulled away from a 19-19 tie to win the first set. The Cavaliers overcame a 21-19 deficit to claim the second set.
Roncalli broke free from a 20-20 tie in the third, finishing off the set with a Hanson kill.
Belle Fourche owned a five-point lead in the fourth before the Cavaliers eventually tied the score at 22-22 only to have the visitors score the final three points.
The Broncs then bolted out to an 8-1 lead in the fifth. Roncalli gradually closed the gap and trailed 12-11 before losing a long rally which gave Belle Fourche enough momentum to finish off the match.
“It goes by really fast. You don’t want to play timid in that fifth one,” Schlichtemeier said. “You want to just keep playing volleyball and control what you can control.”
Smid was pleased with the way her players battled throughout the match.
“We had a couple that just didn’t go our way,” Smid said. “Belle Fourche kept swinging hard at us. They played a very controlled offense that made it harder for us. We had to play defense and convert back into offense. It was a really hard-fought match.”
Hanson had a monster afternoon, finishing with 24 kills and a school-record 58 digs in the contest.
“Front row, back row, she was all over,” Smid said. “It’s really nice to have a player like Ella on the floor. She’s going to lay it all out there. Just an excellent effort for her.”
The Cavaliers were not only coming off a match on Thursday night, but some members, like Hanson, had an activity on earlier in the day on Friday as well.
“We actually also had a marching band competition all day today so it’s back-to-back games with marching band in between,” Hanson said. “But we have to learn to battle. We have to fight it out. We hope to fight harder in upcoming matches, too.”
In the end, there was plenty of emotion during the two-hour marathon as players celebrated successful plays and also dealt with disappointments of missed opportunities.
“The highs, of course when you get an amazing point, the long rallies those are always the super highs, when you feel accomplished after a point,” Hanson said. “The really lows, you know that you could have done something better. You know that you could have won that point. So those are the lows. We just have to know that after a point, it’s done and over with and we have to compete the rest of the set.”
Olivia Hanson dished out 43 set assists, breaking her own school record in the process. Hayley Schmidt contributed 50 digs.
Jaidyn Feickert added eight kills to the Roncalli total.
The Cavaliers, 11-6 on the season, host Mobridge-Pollock on Tuesday night.
“We’re going to take a few days to recoup,” Smid said, “and hopefully dust this one away and go on to the next one and learn from it.”
Serving: Aberdeen Roncalli 100-107 9 aces (Faith Danielson 21-21 3 aces).
Hitting: Aberdeen Roncalli 163-198 51 kills (Ella Hanson 54-66 24 kills, Jaidyn Feickert 17-21 8 kills).
Setting: Aberdeen Roncalli 192-192 45 assists (Olivia Hanson 132-132 43 assists).
Digs: Aberdeen Roncalli 167 (E. Hanson 58, Hayley Schmidt 50).
Blocks: Aberdeen Roncalli 1 solo 4 assists (O. Hanson 2 assists, Feickert 1 solo 1 assist).
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