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Aggressive Golden Eagles take down Cobblers

Aberdeen Central’s Leah Gough, center, hits the ball past Rapid City Central’s Leah Richardt, left, during Friday night’s match at the Golden Eagles Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 8/26/2022

If Aberdeen Central’s season-opener was, well, forgettable, then Friday’s follow-up was a big step forward.

The Golden Eagles raced their way to a 3-1 victory over Rapid City Central at Golden Eagles Arena, winning by set scores of 25-9, 25-17, 19-25 and 25-8.

“I feel a lot better and I think we feel a lot better as a team,” said senior libero Sydney Evans after Friday’s win. “Minus the third set, I think we played a lot better as a team and communicated well.”

Aside from that third set anomaly, Friday’s match was a stark contrast to Tuesday’s performance. Aberdeen Central was aggressive from the service line and more assertive at the net.

“We served really well, especially in sets one and four,” said Aberdeen coach Jackie Bindenagel.

Evans was part of that serving effort, finishing the match with six aces, two of which came as part of an 8-point run to end the opening set and the final coming in a 4-point run to end the match.

“We always say when we come out and play with a lot of energy, we tend to play better,” Evans said. “Coach always talks about how we need to have leadership and all do our roles. … I was just trying to make sure I did my job and get my serves in and be aggressive at the same time.”

Aberdeen Central’s Sydney Evans (32) celebrates winning a point with teammates Grace Kuch, far right, Madi Struble (4) and Ashley Wangler, front far left, during Friday night’s match against Rapid City Central at the Golden Eagles Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 8/26/2022

Mission, then, accomplished. 

“We seemed a lot more comfortable (at the net) tonight,” Bindenagel said. Part of that is we served well, got a free ball back, and then you can run your offense as you want to.”

That comfortability led to a balanced hitting night. Grace Kuch finished with 14 kills, followed by Leah Gough with 11, Madi Struble with nine and Taryn Nieman with seven.

The lone glaring blemish on the night was a third set trip-up that saw Rapid City Central claw its way in front and hang on.

“Set three I think we had 13 unforced errors,” Bindenagel said. “But (the girls) responded and came back.”

Bindenagel said her team just needed to regroup between the third and fourth sets.

“I told them, ‘We can’t lose our heads. You just have to compose yourself, get back at it and let that one go,’” she said.

In addition to Aberdeen Central’s offensive efforts, the Golden Eagles got four blocks from Nieman, 22 digs from Evans and 32 assists from Arylie Waldo.

The Golden Eagles will have little time to savor Friday’s win, as Aberdeen will host Rapid City Stevens this afternoon. Match time is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Civic Arena.

Serving: AC 83-90 7 aces (Sydney Evans 27-27 6 aces, Arylie Waldo 11-11 3 aces, Sawyer Bahr 12-15 2 aces).

Hitting: AC 111-128 42 kills (Grace Kuch 35-40 14 kills, Leah Gough 21-25 11 kills, Madi Struble 19-22 9 kills, Taryn Nieman 16-16 7 kills).

Setting: AC 109-111 34 assists (Waldo 106-108 32 assists).

Digs: AC 71 (Evans 22, Anna Malchow 19, Waldo 11).

Blocks: AC 7 (Nieman 4).

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