Southwest beats Preble in five-set match
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – It was a match that kept going back and forth.
The Green Bay Southwest and Green Bay Preble girls’ volleyball teams were about as evenly matched as they could be Tuesday night.
When the teams were tied 13-13 in the fifth set – the first to 15 wins – both Southwest and Preble had tallied 105 points apiece.
The Trojans turned up their offense a couple of dials late and pulled out a 15-13 Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) victory to win the match 3-2 at Preble.
In the back-and-forth affair, Southwest won the first and third sets 25-23 and 25-19, and Preble won the second and fourth sets 25-19 and 25-23.
“I push them and tell them when they’re not meeting the standard,” Southwest Head Coach Andrew Heimerman said. “We had a lot of talks about that tonight, but I kept saying, ‘It’s 12-12. I believe we can get three points before they can.’ We kept saying that all night. If we run our offense, I know we can score.”
The Hornets took a 13-12 lead in the fifth and held the momentum before an injury timeout was called.
When play resumed, it was all Southwest.
The Trojans had their offense flowing late, as outside hitter Rachel Kerhin scored the final two points on the night via kills.
“She swung aggressively and was able to beat the block and get us those kills we needed at the end,” Heimerman said.
Even when they were two points from losing the match, the Southwest players knew they could pull out the win.
“Nerves and tension were high, but we were all confident we were going to win this one,” Southwest middle hitter Olivia Daane, who finished with 11 kills and three blocks, said. “We know our plays, and as long as we run them, we’re doing OK.”
The win was a big one for Southwest, which improved to 19-4 on the season and 4-2 in the FRCC.
“It meant the world to us,” Daane said about the win. “We worked hard for this. We came back after a rough season last year, and we lost in a five-set match last year to Preble, so it meant a lot to get this one.”
Preble dropped to 12-23 and 2-4 in the FRCC.
“I love the way my girls battled tonight,” Preble Head Coach Brian Van Den Plas said. “They worked hard. I’m pleased with them. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.
The Trojans got off to a slow start in the opening set and trailed 21-17.
However, Morgan Stewart had two big kills late, and Marissa Van Dyke put a shot down the line to win the first, 25-23.
“We had a hard time getting in our rhythm,” Heimerman said. “Our serving was awful in the first set, and we know it. We’re a team that relies on our serve to beat people up, take them out of system and make it difficult for them to run their offense. Tonight, we got into our heads right away – we never served as aggressive as we could have.”
Preble controlled the second set to pull off a 25-19 victory.
The Trojans led the entire third set, but the Hornets hung close and were down only 18-17.
Southwest scored seven of the last nine points to win going away, 25-19.
The opportunity was there in the fourth for the Trojans to close out the match, but the Hornets ’t hung tough.
With it tied 18-18, Preble scored the next three points.
The set was tied 22-22 and 23-23 before a pair of Southwest hitting errors allowed the Hornets to get a 25-23 win.
In the fifth set, neither team had a lead bigger than two points, as there were seven lead changes.
Southwest seized its opportunities in scoring the final three points of the match to eke out a 15-13 win.
The Trojans were led by Margie Stevens and Stewart with 13 kills apiece.
Alyssa Buzaitis finished with 20 digs.
“You saw in spurts the offense we can be,” Heimerman said. “When Margie Stevens and Olivia get going in the middle, those two are hard to stop. They’re one of the best middle combos in the area. Alexa Hernandez, our setter, is good about feeding them and getting the balls in good positions.”
Kiara Kuhn had a team-high 10 kills for Preble, while Rylie Smith added nine kills and 19 digs.
Whitney tallied five of her team’s eight aces.
With the postseason approaching, Heimerman said he saw the confidence of his players grow during the match.
“We’re 19-4, but I don’t know they always have the confidence of 19-4,” he said. “There’s still the, ‘Oh, it’s Notre Dame or Preble on the other side.’ Sometimes that creeps in a bit instead of being like, we’re a good team and we need to have confidence and take it to these teams. That’s the next step we have to take as a group.”