By Nick Gonnella Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — The South Decatur volleyball team advanced to the sectional championship for the second straight year, but once again fell to host Hauser in the title match.
Hauser had defeated South in three sets in the title match last fall, but it appeared the Lady Cougars were going to force a fifth set Saturday.
South (22-10) fell to Hauser 13-25, 25-21, 18-25, 26-28 after dominating Madison Shawe 25-12, 25-5, 25-13 in the semifinal.
South head coach Lisa Bennett was pleased to see her team play with focus and advance.
“The girls played a great game this morning,” said Bennett. “It was nice to start out with a team that wasn’t too challenging for us to work out some of the sectional nerves. They played get as a team and it definitely showed in the way they were playing. We had a great serving game going this morning with a team total of better than 93 percent serving.”
South served 68-for-73 (93 percent). Junior Brittany Koors served 25-for-26 with 24 points and seven aces. Senior Clarissa Baltus served 10-for-10 with eight points and two aces, while senior Courtney Billingsley served 7-for-7 with three points and two aces. Junior Megan Niese served 13-for-15 with 11 points and two aces, and senior Ashley Johannigman served 8-for-10 with six points and two aces. Senior Julia Miller served 5-for-5 with two points and added an ace.
The Lady Cougars dominated at the net, hitting 57-for-60 with 20 kills. Johannigman and Miller each hit 13-for-14 with a team-high six kills apiece. Baltus hit 18-for-18 with five kills. Koors hit 8-for-8 with three kills, Niese hit 4-for-5 and junior Olivia Watkins hit 1-for-1.
Digs: Johannigman 8; Niese 6; Baltus 5; Miller 5; Billingsley, Mariah Green, Koors 2.
Assists: Koors 12, Green 2, Watkins 2, Miller 1, Morgan Eden 1.
Miller added two block-kills.
Hauser beats South in four
South returned to the court to face off against a formidable opponent, Hauser. South nearly forced a fifth set as the game point went beyond 25.
“We started out slow, which I attribute to nerves and anxiety of who the other team was,” said Coach Bennett.
After falling 25-13 in set one, the Lady Cougars regrouped and controlled the second set. South took a 9-8 advantage and led the rest of the way, with Hauser climbing to within one just once (19-18).
South also led early in the third set, with a block-kill by Johannigman making it 3-0. A kill by Johannigman made it 5-2. Hauser called a timeout after South built its biggest lead, 13-8. The Lady Jets went on an 11-2 run, prompting a South timeout. Hauser nursed a five-point margin and took the third set by seven, 25-18.
Once again, South enjoyed an early lead and built a 6-2 edge in the fourth set. The Cougars maintained a five-point lead that became 17-11 through the set’s first half. However, Hauser wasted no time erasing its deficit. Miller tallied a block-kill to make it 18-14, but Hauser turned up the pressure and tied it at 19-all. The teams forced five ties down the stretch, with Hauser breaking a 26-all tie to claim the match by two.
“The girls played great tonight, just couldn’t pull out the win,” said Bennett. “They gave it their all and left it all on the floor. It is a heartbreaking end to the season, especially for the seniors; they are a very talented and great group of girls and they will definitely be missed on the court next season.”
South hit 117-for-126 with 31 kills and eight block-kills. Miller and Johannigman again led South in hitting. Johannigman hit 30-for-35 with a team-high nine kills and five block-kills, and Miller hit 30-for-31 with eight kills and three block-kills. Niese hit 24-for-25 with seven kills. Baltus hit 18-for-20 with three kills. Koors hit 12-for-12 with two kills, and Watkins chipped in a 3-for-3 night with two kills.
“Julia and Ashley had great games tonight contributing numerous kills, which allowed us to gain some momentum and carry us through the games,” said Bennett of her top hitters.
South served 76-for-83 with 37 points and two aces. Miller served 15-for-16 with nine points and two aces. Baltus served 16-for-16 with 10 points. Johannigman served 13-for-15 with seven points, Billingsley served 13-for-16 with seven points, Niese served 11-for-11 with three points and Koors served 8-for-9 with 1 point.
Digs: Koors 19, Niese 16, Miller 13, Baltus 12, Johannigman 9, Billingsley 6, Mariah Green 3, Watkins 2.
Assists: Koors 20; Watkins 3; Billingsley, Niese, Green 1.
Bennett said she had hoped for the team to continue competing beyond the sectional level.
“The girls wanted this win so bad and I wanted it for them,” she said. “Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out in our favor.”
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.