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Darlington outlasts IowaGrant in home opener
Darl VB Kennedy Rank kill color
Darlington middle hitter Kennedy Rankin tries to hit a ball past Southwestern middle hitter Michelle Budden during Thursday's SWAL match.

     DARLINGTON — Fueled by a fired-up home crowd, the Darlington Redbirds volleyball team powered their way to a 15-6 victory in the decisive fifth set to take down the Iowa-Grant Panthers, 3-2, in their SWAL home opener at DHS on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

    “Our student section, our parents and our fans really came through for us as well! They were really loud and fired up for us in that deciding game and we responded,” said Darlington head coach Jennifer Schwartz. “It definitely got louder and louder as we got closer to 15. It was a well deserved and much needed win for the girls.”

    The Redbirds (4-3-1 overall, 1-2 SWAL) rallied from a 20-25 opening set lose to grab a 2-1 lead with wins of 25-17 and 25-16.

     The Panthers (6-3, 0-2) evened the match with a 16-25 decision in set four, but the ‘Birds jumped ahead early in set five and fed off the crowd’s building energy to gain the victory with a 15-6 win.

     “The thing that stands out the most is a comment from the opposing coach– we were ready to play and fired up and I-G was not. I was so proud of the way we fought through some silly mistakes and picked ourselves and each other up to get the hard fought win,” added Schwartz.

     Kennedy Rankin led the Redbirds with six kills, six aces and five block kills. Taryn Rankin and Gabby Steiner each provided four kills, while T. Rankin added four block kills and Gabby also served up six aces. Callie Norton led us with seven assists and she also added four blocks.

     At Hazel Green, on Thursday, Sept. 10, senior middle hitter Michelle Budden hammered down 22 kills and three aces in leading the host Southwestern Wildcats to a 3-0 sweep of the Lady Redbirds.

    Budden had seven kills, a block and an ace in set one as the Wildcats (2-0) got rolling with a 25-10 win.

    Darlington stuck around with the ‘Cats early in set two. A block kill and a tip kill by Kennedy Rankin pulled the Redbirds to within 14-12, but the hosts got the lead back and Amber Brand served up seven straight points with two aces and two Budden kills to open up a 22-12 advantage.

    Budden later won the set by recording kills for three of the final four points, including back-to-back kills to end it by a score of 25-15. Set three was briefly tied at 1-1, and then the ‘Cats started to pour it on rolling to the sweep with a 25-7 win.

    Rankin tallied six kills and four block kills for the ‘Birds.

    Southwestern had 17 aces total in three sets from seven different servers.

    Darlington has a SWAL match at Fennimore on Thursday, Sept. 17, and back at home against Riverdale on Tuesday, Sept. 22. On Saturday, Sept. 19, the Redbirds will compete at the Monticello Tournament, starting at 9 a.m.


Iowa-Grant…  25  17  16  25    6

Darlington….  20  25  25  16  15

Kills: Kennedy Rankin, 6. Blocks: K. Rankin, 5. Assists: Callie Norton, 7. Aces: K. Rankin, Gabrielle Steiner, 6.

At Darlington on Tuesday, Sept. 8


Darlington……..  10     15       7

Southwestern…  25     25     25

Kills: Kennedy Rankin, 6. Blocks: K. Rankin, 4.

At Hazel Green on Thursday, Sept. 10