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Cavaliers sweep past Redfield in home opener

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Ava Hanson, center, reaches to hit the ball as Redfield’s Cecilia Suchor, left and Katie Rozell, right, defend the net during Thursday night’s match at the Roncalli High School gym. Looking on at lower right for Roncalli is Faith Danielson. Photo by John Davis taken 8/24/2023

The Aberdeen Roncalli Cavaliers started strong and held off any effort of a Redfield comeback on Thursday night.

The Cavaliers earned a 25-10, 25-21, 25-17 win over the Pheasants in Northeast Conference volleyball action at Roncalli Gym.

Roncalli coach Mandy Smid said it felt good to come away with the win.

“I feel like we competed really hard the other night at Northwestern and came up short, and to be able to get those three sets and then get the win on top of it just kind of gives that sigh of like ok, now we’re ready to go for the season,” Smid said. “We got that win, so we can keep going back to work, plus it takes the pressure off.”

Roncalli had to overcome some pressure from Redfield throughout the match, but made quick work of the first set. After both teams went back-and-forth early in the set, a timeout was called with the Cavaliers holding a 13-7 lead. Roncalli then proceeded to end the set on a 12-3 run and took the momentum into the second set.

“The girls really took control of it, and I thought they did a nice job of sticking with the details early in that game, getting where they needed to be and into their base position early so that they were able to be as controlled as we were,” Smid said.

Roncalli junior Ava Hanson was glad to see the team control the ball throughout the match.

“It just felt good,” Hanson said. “We started clicking better. We’ve been working on keeping the ball controlled and at our pace, and I think tonight we just put it out there and did it.”

Redfield coach Joel Osborn said his team had to battle adversity after the first set.

“Overall, it was better for us after the first set. We played hard. The girls competed,” Osborn said. “We’re kind of young and inexperienced. We’ve got to learn just to compete and battle our way through some of those down moments that we’re having.”

The second set was much tighter than the first, with both teams once again playing a back-and-forth affair. Roncalli held a 19-18 lead before a Redfield timeout, and like the first set, the Cavaliers answered with a run to end the set. Roncalli ended the set on a 6-3 run, grabbing firm control heading into the third set.

Osborn said service errors played a major part in the Pheasants’ loss.

“We can’t have three serving errors in a row, and we did that in the second set, and I believe it was in the third set as well,” Osborn said. “We were even ahead and we just don’t give ourselves those opportunities to score then if we miss those serves. Three in a row, that’s a little bit of a deflation for our girls.”

The Cavaliers were able to finish off the third set to come away with the straight set win.

Hanson, who finished with a team-high 11 kills and two solo blocks, was happy with her performance.

“I wish I had some more inbounds kills,” Hanson said. “It’s hard to keep them in tempo, but overall I thought I did pretty good hitting the ball inbounds and keeping it where we want it to be to keep the rotations going and keep us in system.”

Smid was also pleased with Hanson’s effort.

“She’s the one that’s ready to go at all times, and she’s not going to let up on much,” Smid said. “If she steps back to the service line, it’s going to be 100%; if she goes up for a swing it’s going to be 100%, and definitely embodies what you want out of a middle hitter.”

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Maddie Huber, left, tries to hit the ball past the defense of Charli Jungwirth, center and Katie Rozell, right, during Thursday night’s match at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 8/24/2023

Katie Rozell had six kills and a pair of solo blocks to top the Pheasants.

Redfield (0-2) will host Hitchcock-Tulare in its home opener on Tuesday, and Osborn said the team needs to build confidence going forward.

“For us, it’s just getting the confidence when we attack the ball, to attack it with some force behind it, and then being able to hit it in spots where the defense isn’t,” Osborn said.

Roncalli (1-1) will host Miller on Tuesday, and Smid says Thursday’s win gives her team confidence heading into next week.

“Next week’s going to be tough, too, with Miller on Tuesday,” Smid said. “I think that confidence tonight from getting that win, complied with some of the success we were able to have offensively and defensively, I think that it is going to encourage them, hopefully, to have seen some of those pieces that we were able to fix, and to do that more in a clean fashion for Tuesday night.”

Serving: Redfield 39-48 3 aces (Hayden Gall 13-13 2 aces, Cecilia Suchor 10-11 1 ace, Kinley Smith 6-7); Aberdeen Roncalli 60-66 5 aces (Jaidyn Feickert 7-11 2 aces, Camryn Bain 8-8 1 ace).

Hitting: Redfield 62-81 13 kills (Katie Rozell 17-24 6 kills); Aberdeen Roncalli 63-79 27 kills (Ava Hanson 22-30 11 kills, Rylee Voeller (6-7 5 kills).

Setting: Redfield 69-69 12 assists (Hayden Gall 59-59 12 assists); Aberdeen Roncalli 77-77 22 assists (Faith Danielson 51-51 18 assists, Maddie Huber 17-17 4 assists).

Digs: Redfield 29 (Jersey Morrison 8, Chloe Zens 6, Rozell 5); Aberdeen Roncalli 22 (Bain 10, McKenna O’Keefe 6).

Blocks: Redfield 2 solo (Rozell 2 solo); Aberdeen Roncalli 2 solo, 6 assists (Ava Hanson 2 solo, 2 assists, O’Keefe 2 assists, Voeller 2 assists).

Records: Redfield 0-2; Aberdeen Roncalli 1-1.

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