DARLINGTON – Up two sets against Cuba City, the Darlington volleyball dug deep but couldn’t find a way to put away their SWAL rivals.
The Cubans recorded 15 kills en route to a 25-19 win over the Redbirds in set four that evened the match, and then the Cubans tallied 13 more kills on the way to a 15-9 win in the decisive fifth set to sink the host Redbirds, 3-2, at DHS on Thursday, Aug. 31.
“We came out a little intimidated and tentative. Once we settled in and started playing our game, things started going our way and we started competing. Unfortunately, the end result wasn’t what I hoped for, but I saw my kids give 110 percent and that’s all any coach can ask for. It was a great high school volleyball match,” pointed out Darlington head coach Jennifer Schwartz.
Cuba City (9-2 overall, 1-0 SWAL) came out firing at the net and the service line to grab an early 1-0 lead over the Redbirds (5-5-1, 1-1). Junior Brinley Wood tallied five kills in the opening set, while senior Keisha Cummings registered three kills and two aces and senior Megan Hartl added three aces and a kill in the Cubans’ 25-17 win.
The Cubans started off strong again in set two, grabbing a quick 14-8 lead to put the hosts on the ropes, but the Redbirds came fighting back with an 18-10 run to even the match at 1-1 with a 26-24 decision.
Darlington rode their momentum into set three and eventually took a 2-1 advantage with a 25-23 win. After the Cubans tied the game at 20-20 on back-to-back kills by senior Mykenzie Vaassen, the ‘Birds grabbed the lead back on a kill by junior Casey Glendenning, and an attack kill and back-to-back block kills by senior Kennedy Rankin to go up 24-20.
The Cubans got as close as 24-23 until a Rankin spiked down the game-winning kill to give the ‘Birds a 25-23 win.
The two teams swapped the lead six times in set four until a kill by Hartl put the Cubans ahead to stay at 17-16. CC increased its lead to 24-19 before Cummings spiked down the game-winner to forced a decisive fifth set.
A back-row kill by Rankin deadlocked the score 9-9 in set five, but the Cubans reeled off the final six points to secure the set and the match. Cummings gave the guests a 10-9 lead with a kill, and then she stepped up to the line and served up the final five points with Wood (five kills) and Vaassen (two) taking the game over at the net to lock up the victory.
Rankin registered 18 kills, 12 digs, five blocks and two aces to lead the Redbirds.
Junior Kathleen Mathias tacked on nine kills and two blocks, while Glendenning served up four aces and senior Chelsie Golackson chipped in with three blocks.
Junior setter Roxi Reuter handed out 24 assists, and senior setter Gabrielle Steiner added 17 assists in the match. Sophomore Claire Leahy registered 10 digs for the ‘Birds.
At Mineral Point, on Tuesday, Aug. 29, the Lady Redbirds opened SWAL play by sweeping the defending champion Pointers, 25-17, 26-24, 25-22.
Kennedy Rankin had 15 kills, four aces and three blocks in the victory. Roxi Reuter added five kills and distributed 20 assists for the Redbirds, while Gabrielle Steiner added 17 assists and Kathleen Mathias tallied eight kills.
“It’s always nice to get a conference win right out of the gate, and a road win is a great confidence builder,” said Coach Jennifer Schwartz.
Darlington has SWAL matches at home against Mineral Point on Thursday, Sept. 7, and at Fennimore on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The Redbirds will participate at the Sauk Prairie Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 9, starting at 9 a.m.
Cuba City……….. 25 24 23 25 15
Darlington………. 17 26 25 19 9
Darlington Leaders– Kills: Kennedy Rankin 18, Kathleen Mathias 9. Blocks: Rankin 3. Aces: Casey Glendenning 2. Assists: Roxi Reuter 24, Gabrielle Steiner 17. Digs: Rankin 12, Claire Leahy 10.
At Darlington on Thursday, Aug. 31
Darlington………. 25 26 25
Mineral Point…… 17 24 22
Darlington Leaders– Kills: Kennedy Rankin 15, Kathleen Mathias 8. Blocks: Rankin 5. Aces: Rankin 4. Assists: Roxi Reuter 20, Gabrielle Steiner 16. Digs: Rankin 8, Chelsie Golackson 4.
At Mineral Point on Tuesday, Aug. 29
RICHLAND CENTER INVITATIONAL
Championship: 1st– Platteville def. Lodi, 23-25, 25-22, 15-11.
Silver Division: 5th– Royall def. Darlington, 25-19, 25-23.
Pool Play Results– Darlington def. La Crosse Logan, 25-21, 25-15; Darlington def. North Crawford, 25-23, 25-14; Richland Center def, Darlington, 25-23, 22-25.
Darlington Leaders– Kills: Kennedy Rankin 36, Roxi Reuter 14. Assists: Gabrielle Steiner 33, Roxi Reuter 31. Digs: Claire Leahy 18, Rankin 13.
At Richland Center, on Saturday, Sept. 2