By Murray Gleffe, Sports Correspondent
The Ashwaubenon Jaguars traveled down to Manitowoc for a volleyball clash. On paper, the FRCC matchup was even and it proved that way through the entire contest. The Ships ultimately prevailed by a final of 25-20, 20-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-8. Maddie Koch had 28 kills, 19 digs, and 4 blocks. Maddie Crowley added 13 digs and 4 aces, and Maria Scherer contributed 40 assists on the day.
The Jaguars dropped the opening game, but then put the ‘pep in their step’ in the next two games. After taking an early 4-2 lead in Game 2, Jaguars (DS) Emilie Pludemann hit an ace. That was followed up by a kill by Crowley, and a block by Koch. Suddenly, the Jaguars had a five-point advantage. The Ships, however, battled back and eventually took a 13-12 lead before Jaguars Head Coach Megan Wierschke called a needed timeout. That set the stage for Maddie Crowley serving the rock with authority. Crowley connected on three straight aces, and Koch two kill shots to put the Jaguars back up 19-14. Down the stretch, Allison Nitti had a key block that enabled the Jaguars to snag Game 2 by five points (25-20).
Game 3 didn’t look like it would turn out positive for the Jaguars after the Ships jumped out to an early 5-1 lead. However, the Jaguars started using the short push shot against the Ships who were playing back in anticipation of the ‘big kill’ shots from Crowley and Koch. It worked! The Jaguars scored seven of nine points to take their first lead of Game 3 at 8-7. The teams went back and forth for the middle portion of the game until the Jaguars went up 14-10 after a long point ended with Crowley connecting on a kill shot that found the line on the left side of the Ships home court. The Jaguars extended their lead with a Shaun Berry service winner and a Maria Scherer punch shot after she faked a set. It put the Jaguars up 21-17. The Ships closed to within two points, but that would be as close as they would come the rest of the game. The Jaguars put the stamp of approval on the final point with an Alyssa Bath dig, and Koch Kill.
The Jaguars had a 2-1 game advantage in the best of five match. Could the Jaguars capture one of the final two games? The Ships jumped out in Game 4 by scores of 6-0, 9-2, and 12-4. The Jaguars tried to cut into the margin after Crowley hit an ace and Megan Servais got a block to cut the lead to a nerve wracking 18-14. However, the Ships gathered themselves and left no doubt at the end of Game 4, that the Jaguars/Ships dual was coming down to an ‘all out’ pivotal Game 5.
In the finale, the Jaguars jumped out to an early lead with Koch ripping a shot from the center of the court for a winner. That was followed up by a Crowley kill and Katie Benson assist. The Jaguars took a 5-2 lead in Game 5. However, the Ships volleyball team (spurred on by a large student section) seemed to have that extra step down the stretch and scored 13 of the last 16 points of the game to capture the conference matchup in 5 games. The Jaguars will be back in action over the weekend when they host their own tournament.