SOUTH WAYNE – It was a bit of a rough start to the season for Rachel Wolff’s Black Hawk volleyball team, but the Lady Warriors are beginning to heat up the court.
Black Hawk ended the first half of their Six Rivers East schedule with a 3-1 victory at Juda on Tuesday, then opened the second-half of their league season with an impressive 3-0 sweep over Argyle to improve to 3-4 in SRE play and 5-12 overall on the season.
After dropping 11 of their first 13 matches to start the year, the Lady Warriors have won three of their last four outings.
“We’ve been working on the little things. We can’t take huge leaps and bounds forward, but progress is what we’re looking for,” explained Wolff. “We are improving. I think with a couple of wins, a team starts to gel together. That’s exactly what we are doing at the right time of the season. We’ll take that right now. We are starting to come together as a team.”
At South Wayne, on Thursday, Sept. 20, the Warriors weren’t about revenge as much as they were about redemption when they welcomed Argyle to town to kickoff the second half of the SRE season.
The Orioles (4-3) started off a fine first-half of their season by beating Black Hawk by a 3-1 margin in their conference opener at Argyle on Aug. 28.
But, the Warriors were ready to turn the tables against the Orioles the second time around.
“(Argyle) pretty much took control of the match when we were up there. We knew it was going to be tough because they serve well, they hit well and they’re scrappy,” said Coach Rachel Wolff about the Orioles. “We knew we had to play our A game. I think this is the best we’ve played all season. The girls were ready for the challenge.”
Black Hawk took down their guests, 25-17, in set one behind the stellar play at the net of middle hitters Jen Wellnitz and Mikayla Sigafus. Wellnitz recorded four kills and a block early in the set to turn a 4-7 deficit into a 14-8 Warriors’ lead, while Sigafus added three kills and three blocks to help the hosts put the game away.
Argyle came back and built up a 12-18 lead in set two, but they were unable to put away the Warriors down the stretch. An ace by sophomore Alexis Warrell tied the match at 20 all and she served up the next five points as well with Abby Schiferl and Sigafus hammering home back-to-back spike kills to seal a 25-20 win that put Black Hawk up 2-0.
The Warriors jumped ahead early in set three with Nicole Diehl serving up a pair of aces to give her team a 6-1 lead, but the Orioles came storming back thanks to several kills by Jenna Langmeier and eventually grabbed a 21-23 lead on an ace by Lizzy Ritschard.
The hosts fought back to deadlock the score at 23, 24 and 25 on kills by Wellnitz and at 26 on a kill by Kelly Neuenschwander, then Wellnitz put them into the lead to stay with another spike kill before ending the night with a service ace that locked up a 28-26 decision for the sweep.
“Unbelievable. We had high aspirations, of course, but to take them in three games was the icing on the cake,” admitted Wolff on the sweep. “To show the composure to come back and win that third game says a lot about this team. The girls did a nice job. I’m very proud of them.”
Wellnitz finished with 13 kills and three blocks to lead the Warriors on the night, while Sigafus tallied eight kills, three blocks and three aces en route to the victory. Neuenschwander also led the team with 10 assists.
Langmeier and Kim Pink nailed eight kills apiece for the Orioles. Jessica Treuthardt had three blocks and Rachel Tollackson had three aces, while Kayla Ostby handed out 21 assists for Argyle.
At Juda, on Tuesday, Sept. 18, it wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Lady Warriors were able to put away the host Panthers, 3-1 (25-16, 15-25, 25-16, 25-21), in a SRE contest.
Jen Wellnitz led Black Hawk with 16 kills and two blocks, while Kelly Neuenschwander served up four aces and distributed five assists for the Warriors.
“We got through. It was not pretty over in Juda, but we got the job done. We’re finally starting to realize that we have to put the other team on the defensive. We have to play some offense instead of constantly free-balling over to the opponent. Good things happen when you attack,” Wolff said.
Juda, which is coached by Darlington graduate Tara Lund, was led by Brittany Moe with seven kills and four aces. Brianna Knudtson tallied 33 digs and Tabatha Davis had 17 assists for the Panthers (1-6).
Black Hawk will try to keep rolling along when they head to Barneveld on Tuesday, Oct. 2, for a SRE meeting with the league-leading Golden Eagles (6-0).
Argyle.…..….. 17 20 26
Black Hawk... 25 25 28
Black Hawk... 25 15 25 25
Juda………… 16 25 16 21