SHULLSBURG — Belmont rallied from a tough first-set loss to post three consecutive wins to sink the host Shullsburg Miners, 3-1, in a Six Rivers West prep volleyball match at SHS on Thursday, Sept. 28.
The victory snapped a five-match losing streak in the conference play for the Lady Braves (3-13-1 overall, 2-6 SRW) and gave them a season sweep over the Miners (3-11, 1-7).
Belmont held a 24-20 lead in set one until a pair of kills by Shullsburg freshman Kayla Klotz and a pair of service aces by senior Faith Ubersox thrust the Miners into a 25-24 lead.
After the Braves briefly regained the lead at 26-25, Klotz tallied three consecutive kills to lead the Miners to a hard-fought 28-26 decision.
“Mental toughness and focus helped us in our first set. Playing from behind is not easy, so it was great for our team to overcome the 20-24 deficit,” said Shullsburg head coach Hannah Pick. “We had a lot of really good moments against Belmont. There are some areas that we have definitely improved on since the start of the season. Our hitting looked better last night than it has all season.”
Undaunted, Belmont came right back and took control of set two thanks to a seven-point scoring burst when the game was deadlocked at 7-7. A kill by sophomore Lizzy Haag gave the Braves the lead and the serve, and junior Sadie Willborn stepped to the line and served up six straight points with two aces to extend the lead to 14-7.
Shullsburg got back within two at 20-18 later in the set, but another ace by Willborn and a tip kill by Haag brought the Braves back to even with a 25-19 decision.
Belmont used another early scoring run to build a lead on the Miners in set three and held on to post a 25-18 win to go up 2-1. Junior libero Callie Wiegel served the Braves from a 6-6 tie to an 11-6 lead, and the hosts never got closer than two points the rest of the set.
Four kills by senior Kassandra Palzkill and three others by junior Elsie de Haan helped lock up the win in the third set.
“The key for us all year has been keeping the fire going and not giving other teams the chance to come back on us. In the first (set), we didn’t put them away like we should have and it allowed them to keep the hope alive. In sets two and three, it was a different story. We got our leads fairly early in the set and pushed through to the end,” admitted Belmont head coach Matt Bockhop.
The Miners pulled out to an early 9-3 lead in set four, but the Braves came storming back with a 7-1 run of their own to even the score at 10 all.
Shullsburg regained the lead, however several missed serves allowed Belmont to stay close. The Braves scored five unanswered points to take a 21-20 lead, and then the teams went back and forth trading points and tying each other up seven times before the Braves took the lead for good at 28-27 on another missed serve by Shullsburg.
“We missed quite a few serves in that fourth set. With that set being so close, those serves really hurt us. We just failed to capitalize on the times we had the momentum going for us after our first set. We needed to finish rallies, and we were just not able to do that late in the match,” Pick explained.
Senior Briana Ernst, who recorded nine of her match-high 20 kills in the fourth set, finished off the Miners with a blistering spike to seal the set– 29-27– and the match– 3-1– for the Braves.
“It was a bit frustrating at times, but we were able to pick our selves up in some of those close sets that we have been on the opposite end of earlier this season,” mentioned Bockhop. “It gives us that confidence to know that we are able to finish those big plays when we need it. We have had individuals stepping up all year, but (Thursday) the group was challenged to step up as one and they were able to answer the call.”
De Haan added 14 kills for the Braves, and Palzkill tallied 13 kills, 15 digs and three blocks in the victory. Haag chipped in with seven kills and Willborn scored four aces, while junior setter Nicole Knebel dished out 47 assists and had 11 digs in the match.
Wiegel led Belmont with 16 digs and she served up two aces along with junior Sasha Wrege.
“I thought (Thursday’s) win was big for us. I think that matches like this are what prepare a team for the post season. You never know what will happen in that one-and-done setting so its great to see the team pulling together here at the end and finding ways to win. That’s is the mentality it takes to have those runs at tournament time, and I think we are setting ourselves up to be a tough opponent for whoever we draw,” Bockhop said.
Klotz registered 16 kills, three blocks and two aces to lead the Miners. Ubersox added 10 kills, three aces and 21 digs, while sophomore setter Reva Spillane contributed 16 assists and three blocks for the hosts.
Sophomore libero Calli Jerry led the Miners with 25 digs, and freshman Layla Alt recorded seven kills on the night.
Belmont has upcoming SRW matches at River Ridge on Thursday, Oct. 5, and at home against Cassville on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The Lady Braves will also participate at the annual North Crawford Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 7, starting at 9 a.m.
Shullsburg will have back-to-back SRW matches hosting Potosi on Monday, Oct. 9, and traveling to Highland on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
Belmont……….. 26 25 25 29
Shullsburg……. 28 19 18 27
Stat Leaders– Belmont– Kills: Briana Ernst 20, Elsie de Haan 14, Kassandra Palzkill 13. Blocks: Palzkill 3. Assists: Nicole Knebel 47. Aces: Sadie Willborn 4. Digs: Callie Wiegel 16, Palzkill 15, Knebel 11. Shullsburg– Kills: Kayla Klotz 16, Faith Ubersox 10. Blocks: Klotz 3, Reva Spillane 3. Assists: Reva Spillane 16. Aces: Ubersox 3, Klotz 2. Digs: Calli Jerry 25, Ubersox 21.
At Shullsburg on Thursday, Sept. 28