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Highland’s senior night was spoiled by a surging Iowa Mennonite team in a 3-0 sweep of the Huskies.
The Huskies celebrated quite a few seniors on Thursday, with eight seniors on the team. Kylie Wood, Sarah Schneider, Emilee Thomann, Macey Thomann, Holly Schneider, Kristy Thomann, Aly Stokes and Erin Simon all took their home court for potentially the final time.
The spirit of senior night was immediately felt as the Huskies were communicating and setting up their outside hitters and took a 10-5 lead over Iowa Mennonite. A big part of Highland’s fast start was their ability to rally and stay within their offense early.
In the first 10 points scored by Highland, nine were earned by a kill, ace or block by Highland.
Iowa Mennonite then stormed back to take a 15-13 lead and Highland called a timeout. After the timeout, Highland continued to keep the ball alive at all costs and put things on Iowa Mennonite to finish points. With a 17-14 lead, Iowa Mennonite was then called for five straight violations and Highland had taken back the lead and forced an IMS timeout.
After the timeout a Mia Graber kill on a cross-court push, which earned her a good chunk of her 18 kills on the night, and a Stokes attack error tied things up at 19. That was followed up by two straight from the Huskies on a bad set by IMS that didn’t allow an attack and a big Alyssa Brase kill to force another IMS timeout.
The two teams then went back and forth and after two Rubye Ney kills and two Stokes kills the score was tied 24-24. After one more point for each team, Highland then had back-to-back unforced errors to give the set 27-25 to Iowa Mennonite.
Highland wasn’t the same after that set loss, with their energy level lower than the opening set.
Iowa Mennonite took the second set easily 25-9, with five aces during the second set.
Highland continued their back slide early in the third set and fell down 9-2 early to start the set. Highland took a timeout to stop the bleeding.
“Terminating the point and keeping them out of system was really how we got points in the final two sets,” Graber said.
Graber said the Huskies had done a great job of setting up Stokes and Brase early, but a varied Iowa Mennonite attack in the second and third sets kept them on their heels.
After the timeout, Iowa Mennonite built their lead to 19-9 before another Highland timeout. This time the Huskies battled back and used a pair of Wood aces to bring the score to 23-15 and followed it up with a Macey Thomann kill to make it 23-16. The hole was too deep to climb out of and Iowa Mennonite closed out the set 25-17 to complete the sweep.
Graber said after the first set scare that Iowa Mennonite just focused on sticking to their game plan and not letting the Huskies seize control of the flow of the match.
“We just have to make smart plays, but still be aggressive. I think the big thing is that we’re trying to do is stay mentally tough toward the end of the season,” Graber said.
Iowa Mennonite was led by Graber with 18 kills, Miller with eight kills and Ney with seven kills. Miller had 25 assists on the night and Suzanna Yoder had 17 digs. Katelyn Lehman had two blocks.
Iowa Mennonite: 27; 25; 25
Highland: 25; 9; 17