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Knights win emotion-filled match over Ipswich

Aberdeen Christian’s Alexis Isakson, center, digs out a serve as teammates Sophia Eichler (14) and Payton Skarin (7) look on during Tuesday night’s match against Ipswich at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. Isakson recorded her 1,000th career dig during the match. Photo by John Davis taken 10/17/2023

It was an emotional night for Aberdeen Christian.

The Knights fought hard for a 25-20, 25-22, 25-17 Lake Region Conference volleyball win over Ipswich at the Christian Gym Tuesday night.

While there was plenty of emotion throughout the evening, the Knights had a tough time getting going.

“We definitely came out slow. I don’t know if they were just tired from last night,” said Christian coach Sara Powell said. “Energy level was definitely lower tonight, but I think that’s to be expected with games back-to-back and school and stuff.”

Throughout each set, the Knights began with a lead, but had to fight to keep the lead as the Tigers kept it close.

“I thought both teams played hard. Sometimes you get behind and teams give up. I don’t think we gave up. They weren’t allowing us to get back in,” Ipswich coach Trent Osborne said. “So, I was proud of both teams. I was proud of our girls for fighting as hard as a they did throughout the whole three (sets).”

Ipswich held a 9-8 lead in the opening set before Christian took the lead and held on to claim the first set.

“The first set was definitely slow,” Powell said. “They needed to get some momentum and just hit the ball.”

The Knights jumped out to a 7-1 in set two and also led 18-12 before Ipswich once again made a comeback, tying the set at 21 apiece.

Osborne told his team to play with confidence and not give up.

“One of the things that gets you in trouble in volleyball is worrying about making the mistake,” Osborne said. “Don’t worry about making a mistake. If we’re going to do that, we’re going to be aggressive. We have girls that are playing in different positions, out of position, so I was proud of them for taking that to heart and say, ok let’s just go be aggressive, make our mistakes on the other side of the net and see what happens.”

The Knights finished the set on a 4-1 run to take a two-set lead.

Christian senior Natalie Biel said the team had to regroup throughout the match.

“We just regrouped and remembered what our coaches taught us and just finished strong,” Biel said.

The third set came with added emotion as Knights’ sophomore Ali Isakson recorded her 1,000th career dig. Isakson said the milestone was special and surprising.

“It means a lot,” Isakson said. “I wasn’t expecting it because my coaches wanted to keep it a secret, and so I was like really surprised and excited.”

Powell was excited for Isakson’s accomplishment and hoped that it would happen during a home match.

“That was so big. We were really hoping it was going to be tonight with it being a home game,” Powell said.

The accomplishment also gave the Knights a momentum boost to finish out the final set.

Aberdeen Christian’s Chloe Bosma, right, reaches to hit the ball as Ipswich’s Natalie Crissman, left and Josie Knutson, center, defend the net during Tuesday night’s match at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. At lower left looking on for the Knights is Sophia Eichler. Photo by John Davis taken 10/17/2023

“It really helped in the third set when Ali got her 1,000th,” said Christian senior Chloe Bosma, “because I feel like our energy just went up and we were able to focus more and kill some balls and control it better on our side.”

The excitement gave the Knights the boost they needed to finish out the match and claim the sweep. The win mostly likely capped off the last home match for four seniors on the Christian squad, which includes Biel, Bosma, Sophia Fogarty, and Eilene Hulscher.

Hulscher, who missed last season due to an illness, was glad to be a part of the team and looks forward to watching the younger girls grow in the coming years.

“I’m just happy. It’s just great to be a part of such a good team,” Hulscher said. “I can’t wait to see how they’re going to turn out when most of those girls are seniors. Can’t wait to come back and watch.”

Fogarty recalled how much the team has played together through the years.

“We’ve been playing for a long time together,” Fogarty said, “so it was fun to have a last win here together.”

Powell was excited to get the win for the seniors in the last regular-season home match.

Aberdeen Christian’s volleyball coach Sara Powell, center, applauds as Knights players on the bench celebrate winning a point during Tuesday night’s match against Ipswich at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 10/17/2023

“These girls have worked hard all season and last season. These four seniors have played together since they were little, with basketball and volleyball and other sports and going to school together,” Powell said. “I remember being a senior and having that emotion and it’s a memorable time, so I’m glad we could make it for them.”

Ipswich (6-19) will host Herreid-Selby Area Monday, and Osborne says his team can learn a lot from Tuesday’s loss to prepare for the next match.

“Christian has two really good middles, and (Herreid-Selby Area) has two really big middles, so we’re going to look at the film, what did their middles do to us, what can we use against them,” Osborne said. “It’s always a learning situation. We got better tonight, which is good. Some girls really came out. I learned some stuff; the kids learned some stuff. What could be bad about that?”

Powell said her team will take time to prepare for the final regular-season match at Britton-Hecla on Monday.

“Rest and just focus on coming out strong and staying on top,” Powell said. “Both Sophia Eichler and Ari (Johnson) had a great game tonight being strong middles, and that’s what I expect from my middles. I think mentally just forgetting if we have a bad set or a bad point, like forgetting it and moving on. Just mindset stuff again. But other than that, I think just being aggressive pushing forward.”

Serving: Aberdeen Christian 66-74 9 aces (Ari Johnson 8-9 2 aces, Alexis Isakson 8-9 2 aces, Sophia Eichler 6-6 1 ace).

Hitting: Aberdeen Christian 80-97 27 kills (Ari Johnson 21-24 11 kills, Chloe Bosma 24-29 7 kills, Payton Skarin 14-17 3 kills).

Setting: Aberdeen Christian 90-100 22 assists (Sawyer Schwan 42-46 11 assists, Jolie Fogarty 40-45 10 assists).

Digs: Aberdeen Christian 59 digs (Isakson 26 digs, Skarin 13 digs, Jolie Fogarty 5 digs).

Blocks: Aberdeen Christian (Johnson 1, Eilene Hulscher 1, Eichler 1).

Records: Ipswich 6-19; Aberdeen Christian 12-17.

Ipswich stats not reported

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