MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (March 10–17)
PREP VOLLEYBALL: Riverdale 3, Cuba City 2
CUBA CITY — Riverdale pulled off a stunning comeback against host Cuba City by rallying from a 0–2 deficit to take down the Cubans in five sets at CCHS on Thursday, March 11, and forge a tie atop the SWAL spring volleyball standings to start off the second-half of the alternate fall season.
The loss ended the Cubans’ 12-match SWAL winning streak dating back to last season when the Chieftains defeated the Cubans, 3–2, in Muscoda to halt a 28-match winning streak.
“The biggest disappointment was taking a 2–0 lead and not being able to keep the momentum,” stated Cuba City head coach Keri Lawson. "Credit goes to Riverdale and their defense. They found a way to put the ball down in the front court and we never found an answer to that."
The Cubans (3–1 overall, 3–1 SWAL) had to manufacture a rally of their own to jump out to a 1–0 lead on the Chieftains (3–1), who were fresh off a 3–1 victory at Fennimore just two days earlier.
Riverdale held a 24–21 advantage on the hosts until a kill by Paige Beau, an ace by Maddison Carl and a block-kill by Breeann Kraus tied the scored at 24 all. A Summer Noble kill put the Chieftains up 25–24, but three straight unforced errors by the Chieftains allowed the Cubans to rally for a 27–25 win.
Lawson’s Cubans extended the lead out to 2–0 with a 25–19 win in set two. Junior Hailey Stich registered eight kills in the set to lead the Cubans.
Riverdale used an eight-point service run by Taylor Johnson — with Carlie Jo Brownlee providing four kills — to pull out to a 15–8 lead in set three. The Chieftains rolled to a 25–15 win from there to trim the deficit to 2–1.
Riverdale kept up the momentum by charging out to a 16–8 lead in set four. The Cubans closed the gap to one at 20–19 thanks to four kills by Stich and two more by senior Sami Meier, however the Chieftains notched the final five points to earn a 25–19 win and force a decisive fifth set.
Cuba pulled out to an early 7–3 lead behind two kills by Kraus and four Riverdale errors, but the Chieftains came storming back with a 7–1 scoring run of their own to grab a 10–8 advantage.
The Cubans fought to tie the set at 10 all, 11 all and 12 all. A missed serve by the Cubans gave the lead back to the Chieftains and a kill by Kalayah Kaschub got the guests to match-point. A Stich kill kept the Cubans' hopes alive, but Kaschub scored another kill to seal the set, 15–13, and the match 3–2, for Riverdale.
“The fifth set was pretty intense," said Lawson. "We came out ready and with a lead then struggled with errors from the serve line. There is no room for mistakes in that quick fifth set. Hopefully we grew as a team from that experience."
Stich finished the night with 25 kills and 24 digs. Beau chipped in with five kills, 21 digs and three aces, while Ella McKinley tallied 25 kills, 17 digs and three aces for the Cubans.
Brownlee led Chieftains with 14 kills. Madison Couey added 12 kills, 25 digs and 37 assists in the win, and Kaschub provided 10 kills and six blocks.
Riverdale will host Fennimore in the SWAL regular season finale on Thursday night. The Cubans will host Southwestern Thursday.