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Jaguars outlast Rebels in 2A volleyball clash in 5 games

OVER THE DEFENSE — Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman hitter Brianna Petrowiak (25) taps a kill over United South Central’s Mariah Anderson (11) during a Section 2A, South Sub-Section play-in volleyball match Monday night in Wells. The Jaguars’ Alexis Cegelske (52) and Johnnie Zaharia (33) look on as USC’s Kiera Schultz (15) sets a block. (Photo by Greg Abel)

WELLS — The No. 9- seeded Martin Luther/Gran-ada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Jaguars’ volleyball team was pushed to the limit on Monday night, but dug deep to find a way against the No. 8-seeded United South Central Rebels to win 18-25, 25-23, 13-25, 25-17, 15-11, respectively, in a Section 2A, South Sub-Section play-in match in Wells.

The Jaguars (7-22) advance to the sub-section quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday against the No. 1-seeded Cleveland Clippers (19-9) in Cleveland.

“We have to keep up the intensity we played with tonight,” Jaguars head coach TJ Williams said. “We have to keep our mistakes down. We’re playing with confidence right now.”

The Jaguars and Rebels played back on Sept. 1, with the Rebels coming out on top in four games. They also tied one game apiece in the USC tournament on Sept. 24, which the Rebels won via scoring more overall points.

“We’ve come a long way since then,” Williams said. “We’re a better team right now.”

The Jaguars are coming off a 3-2 regular-season victory over Fairmont, while the Rebels had lost eight in a row to end the regular season.

“This was a tough loss to swallow, but you have to credit (the Jaguars) for making the plays when they needed to in order to win a pressure-packed match,” Rebels head coach Joe Kuechenmeister said. “I thought our kids battled and put themselves in a position to win, we just couldn’t get the job done when it counted.”

The Rebels won the opening game with relative ease, thanks to Eleny Korn’s nine straight service points.

The Jaguars gathered their collective breath and came out with more intensity, jumping out to an 11-6 lead in Game 2 before winning 25-23.

The Rebels battled back to crush the Jaguars in Game 3 and wrestle away the momentum, but the Jaguars were clutch down the stretch to regain momentum and net the 25-17 Game 4 victory.

Behind Londyn Bowers and Brianna Petrowiak’s kills, plus the serving and defense of Johnnie Zaharia, the Jaguars played clutch volleyball in Games 4 and 5.

“I just took a deep breath out there,” Johnnie Zaharia said. “Serving is something you can control and I just went with it.”

Zaharia came up with three big service points in the pivotal Game 5 to put the Jaguars in position to win. She finished the match 13 of 13 serving.

Her twin sister, Gracie Zaharia, was just as clutch with her serving by going 20 of 23 from the line. Ella Nagorske chipped in with a 16 of 17 serving night, while Petrowiak finished 13 of 16 serving.

Offensively for the Jaguars, Bowers and Brianna Petrowiak each had 11 kills.

Hayley Stensland had 17 set assists, while Nagorske added 10.

Defensively for the Jaguars, Johnnie Zaharia had a team-high 20 digs.

For the Rebels, Kendal Harpstad and Kiera Schultz each had 10 kills, while Korn finished with a game-high 33 set assits.

Defensively, Harpestad had a team-best 17 digs.

Iowa Prep Volleyball

Western Christian 3, North Union 0 — The Class 2A No. 2-ranked Wolfpack lived up to their lofty billing by sweeping the Warriors, 25-6, 25-12, 25-9, during Monday night’s Region 1 volleyball semifinal in Hull.

Western Christian (39-5) gained the regional championship match against Boyden-Hull (16-14) at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Sioux Center High School. Boyden-Hull eliminated Central Lyon, 3-1.

North Union ended its season with an 18-10 record.

Libero Kylie DeJager, backrow specialist Taylor Statema and setter Hannah Broek combined at the service line to build a 16-3 lead in Game 1 for the Wolfpack. DeJager and Statema each produced five-point runs, while Broek tallied four points.

Abby VerBurg, a 6-foot senior hitter, drilled four of her 14 match kills in the opener, while 5-9 senior teammate Stella Winterfeld notched eight of her 15 match kills to engineer the frontline firepower for Western Christian.

After Olivia Merrill and Olivia Von Bank smacked one kill apiece to inch the Warriors within 3-2 in Game 2, VerBurg hammered a Broek set assist for a pivotal sideout kill.

DeJager reeled off five unanswered service points to build an 8-2 lead before Von Bank and Emily Meyer later answered with spike-winners to inch with 12-6.

Winterfeld’s conversion of a Broek set rotated herself to the end line and the senior hitter created separation on the scoreboard with a four-point run for a 17-6 edge.

Like Game 1, Winterfeld blasted home the final kill in Game 2 to guide the Wolfpack to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-3 match.

Statema and Haley Wielenga equally combined for 10 service points in Game 3 to stake Western Christian to a 14-3.

Keana Wynja and Shayna Van Dyken combined for seven kills during the run to build the Wolfpack’s double-digit lead.

Scarlett Winterfeld then closed out the sweep by drilling two kills before rotating to the end line and serving out the final two points of a 25-9 Game 3 win.

DeJager went 18 of 18 serving with 14 points for the Wolfpack, while teammate Statema tallied 12 points behind a 16-for-16 service effort.

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