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Sleepy Eye spikers shut out Jaguars in opening match

ELEVATION — Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman’s Lizzie Oothoudt (middle) elevates to spike a set from teammate Lydia Steinhaus (42) during season-opening volleyball action Thursday night in Truman. The Jaguars’ Kambria Steinhaus watches the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

TRUMAN — Sleepy Eye is one win away from evening its recent season-opening series.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Indians opened their season against the Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Jaguars. The Jaguars won the first three meetings, but the Indians have taken the last two, including a 25-21, 25-16, 27-25 sweep over the Jaguars in Truman on Thursday night.

Because many players were at the state fair, the Jaguars played with only seven athletes. Five Jaguars — Josie Clow, Kambria Steinhaus, Lizzie Oothoudt, Marah Engel and Lydia Steinhaus — played every point.

The teams played back and forth through the first set until the Jaguars were able to take advantage of Sleepy Eye mistakes to build a 14-10 lead.

Sleepy Eye head coach Sydney Geiger then called a timeout, which resulted in the Indians going on a six-point run, including two aces from Alex Steffl.

The Jaguars came back to tie at 16, then played back and forth to a score at 20-all. The Indians took advantage of a couple of Jaguar mistakes, then used a Maranda Braulick diving, one-handed dig, which led to a Sandy Flores set for Jackie Nessett’s kill to end the first game.

Sleepy Eye took an early lead in the second game, going ahead 13-4. The Jaguars never got within seven points before the Indians took Game 2, 25-16.

Jaguar head coach Paul Steinhaus said though the team struggled because it was missing many players, he thought the Jaguars performed well in their first match of the season.

“Pulling some pieces out of the puzzle makes it all a bit harder,” Paul Steinhaus said. “For the most part though, operating through that adversity, we didn’t play bad. We had some major athletes off the floor, especially on offense, but they played admirably. … They didn’t rise to the occasion to the point of winning, but we certainly didn’t roll over.”

Early in the third game, Kambria Steinhaus hit one of her two aces, Emily Stauter used one of her four blocks and Lydia Steinhaus put up two of her six kills to help push the Jaguars to a 5-1 lead.

The Jaguars got as far ahead as 11-4, before the Indians began to storm back. After a Brittney Dittbenner ace and some miscommunication between the Jaguars, the Indians were only three points back.

The teams traded points to get to 22-20 Jaguars, with neither team able to capitalize on its serve for more than one point.

Then the Jaguars were able jump ahead after two Sleepy Eye mistakes to build their lead to 24-20, but the Indians refused to quit.

Sleepy Eye charged back, taking advantage of three balls hit out of bounds and a Sandy Flores ace to tie the game at 24.

Lizzie Oothoudt put a stop to the Jaguars’ skid with a dig, getting the ball to Lydia Steinhaus who set it for one of her team-leading 15 assists, which Oothoudt was able to get up in time to spike for a Jaguar point.

After Flores set up Dittbenner for a Sleepy Eye point to tie at 25, a net violation gave Sleepy Eye its first lead of the game at 26-25. The combo of Flores and Dittbenner teamed up again for the final point to sink the Jaguars, 27-25.

Paul Steinhaus said though his team didn’t get the victory, he is looking for more than wins when evaluating success.

“It’s volleyball, it’s fun,” Paul Steinhaus said. “We came out to play ball and obviously we’re pursuing a win, but there are bigger things out there in terms of chasing success, there’s a whole lot we can do to develop.

“The main thing I want to see us do is play team ball where we’re holding each other accountable and where we’re encouraging each other to do the right things.”

Oothoudt led the Jaguars with eight kills, while adding a solo block.

Lydia Steinhaus was the Jaguars’ facilitator with 15 assists alongside her six kills, Stauter led the team with four blocks, while Kambria Steinhaus and Marah Engel each had two service aces.

The Jaguars (0-1) go on the road to face Sleepy Eye Saint Mary’s at 7:15 p.m. Monday night, while Sleepy Eye Public (1-0) travels to Mankato to face Mankato Loyola at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday night.

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