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Knights open post season with win over Waverly-South Shore

Members of the Aberdeen Christian volleyball team celebrate winning match point against Waverly-South Shore during Monday night’s Region 1B Volleyball Tournament match at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. From the left for the Knights are: Chloe Bosma, Payton Skarin, Sophia Eichler, Alexis Isakson, Eilene Hulscher and Jolie Fogarty. Photo by John Davis taken 10/31/2022

While the odds of Aberdeen Christian returning to the state volleyball tournament are long, the Knights wanted to make sure their season did not end at home Monday night.

Christian racked up a dozen aces, took advantage of its opportunities and secured a 25-16, 25-19, 25-22 win over Waverly-South Shore in the opening round of Region 1B at the Christian School Gym.

“We definitely did not want to lose on our last home game,” said Christian’s Payton Skarin. “We thought that it would be better since we have our home court and it turned out that it worked.”

What also worked was Christian’s ability to catch the Coyotes off guard on serves, many of the short variety, which kept the visitors out of system.

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“The serving part for us was a big thing,” said Knights coach Sara Powell. “We’ve been really practicing on zone serving and they really struggled with the long and short balls, which we’ve been on that side before where it’s hard. I think once they got down, we kind of took advantage of it and just went after it.”

Waverly-South Shore was unable to do much with those short serves throughout the match.

“Huge kudos to them to be able to consistently serve short like that,” said Coyotes coach Kelsey Hannigan. “That’s tough for any player to do.”

WSS got off to a solid start in the match, jumping out in front 10-7. However, that’s when things turned in a major way.

Christian reeled off 12 straight points to take control of the opening set.

While the second and third sets were tight most of the way, the Knights were able to take advantage of numerous free balls and over passes.

“We definitely took advantage of their free balls,” Skarin said, “and we put them down on the floor.”

That’s something the Knights have worked on throughout the season.

“That’s been a huge thing in practice,” Powell said. “If you get a free ball, you should get a free point, every time. We tell our girls just finish the play.”

While Christian had worked on using that to its advantage, the Coyotes had worked on trying not to let that happen.

“That’s something that we’ve been trying to work on the last couple of practices, is not over passing,” Hannigan said, “because you’re going to have teams that will make you pay for it. They took advantage.”

Christian also took advantage of Skarin’s hitting. The eighth-grader led the Knights with seven kills on the evening.

“She’s been so great this whole year. She’s improved a lot,” Powell said. “Her serving is super consistent. If she gets a good set, she’s consistent with her hitting, either way. She’s going to be fun to watch in the next years.”

Skarin did some major damage with her cross-court shots, which were responsible for the majority of her kill total.

Aberdeen Christian’s Payton Skarin, right, reaches to hit the ball as teammates Sophia Eichler (14) and Alexis Isakson (1) look on and Waverly-South Shore’s Emily Heuer, far left, defends the net during Monday night’s Region 1B Volleyball Tournament match at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 10/31/2022

“I like hitting cross court,” Skarin said. “I also was told to hit cross court, but that’s just kind of my go-to spot.”

Sophia Fogarty added six kills to the Christian attack.

Capri Schroeder paced the Coyotes with three aces, four kills and 18 digs. Sophie Dalton finished with a team-leading five kills.

Hannigan was pleased with the way her team handled some last-minute adversity due to sickness.

“I had a couple of girls playing in different positions that they haven’t played before,” she said. “My Libero was playing front row tonight.”

The Knights, 4-23 on the season, now face top-rated Warner in the quarterfinals at 5:30 this evening in Warner.

Powell knows her team will be a big underdog against the defending State B champions, but also knows there is no pressure on her players.

“I told them in the locker room tonight that I just want them to go out and have fun and go to compete,” she said. “Don’t go play scared. If you go to play scared, we’ve already lost. So I asked them to play their best and have fun.”

Serving: Waverly-South Shore 48-55 6 aces (Capri Schroeder 9-9 3 aces, Emily Heuer 11-11, Sophie Dalton 9-9); Aberdeen Christian 68-74 12 aces (Payton Skarin 8-9- 2 aces, Chloe Bosma 18-18 2 aces, Sophia Eichler 7-9 1 ace).

Hitting: Waverly-South Shore 30-42 16 kills (Dalton 10-17 5 kills, Lily Revalee 12-16 4 kills, Schroeder 5-9 4 kills); Aberdeen Christian 74-96 29 kills (Skarin 13-17 7 kills, Sophia Fogarty 12-15 6 kills, Jolie Fogarty 6-7 4 kills).

Setting: Waverly-South Shore (Heuer 20-20 9 assists); Aberdeen Christian 67-68 19 assists (J. Fogarty 60-61 18 assists, Alxies Isakson 5-5).

Digs: Waverly-South Shore (Schroeder 18, Kaelyn Williams 15); Aberdeen Christian 50 (Isakson 21, Skarin 8, J. Fogarty 7).

Blocks: Waverly-South Shore (Bridget Eschen 3, Dalton 2); Aberdeen Christian (J. Fogarty 1, Eicher 1).

Records: Waverly-South Shore 2-29; Aberdeen Christian 4-23.

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