Battlers head to Faith and take Longhorns to four sets

The Battlers travelled to Faith, SD on Friday, Oct. 25 to go up against one of the toughest Class B volleyball teams in the state – the mighty Longhorns.  The Longhorns had an overall record of 24 wins and 3 losses as compared to Potter County’s 9 and 14 record.  There were only three other Class B teams who possessed better records than Faith on this night – Northwestern (32-0), Kodoka (26-5), and Burke (25-5) – and all three of these teams were the number one ranked team in their perspective region.  Not to mention, Faith took third place in the 2018 Class B State Volleyball Tournament as well as returning 13 players from the year before, with six of them being seniors.  But instead of phoning it in, the Battlers stepped up and arguably played one of their best games of the season.  Even though the ladies gave a Herculean effort, they came up short and lost in four sets: 19 to 25, 25 to 23, 23 to 25, and 23 to 25.

It may have been the Longhorns’ reputation or having suffered two straight losses (Northwestern and Strasburg) coming into the match that made it look like the Battlers might not be up to the task at hand because in the first set they were quickly down 14 to 21.  But then something shifted, it could have been the stars aligning, or a prayer answered, or they had nothing to lose, because all of sudden the girls got a spark to truly challenge their formidable foe on every play.  The girls worked hard to win the next four points to make it 18 to 21, which made the Longhorns quit smiling and got Battler supporters who made the 110-mile trip rocking in the stands.  The Longhorns got the next point, but then the girls banged the following point to make the score 19 to 22, which made the noise in the Longhorns’ house grow even louder.  All of this yelling and physical strain to get a point against the Battlers finally made the Longhorns realize that they could no longer look past this squad from east river.  Unfortunately for the Battlers, the Longhorns hunkered down and got the next three points to win the first set, but the tempo was clearly established that this match was not going to be a cakewalk for the hosting team.

At first, it seemed that the Longhorns had reacquired their confidence because in the second set they coasted to a lead over the Battlers, 10 to 16.  But instead of giving up, the girls started trading punches with the Longhorns and soon they got within one point – 21 to 22, which caused Coach Mandy Lemmel to call for a timeout.  Following the timeout, the girls tied the game at 22 points apiece and then again at 23 points apiece, before the Battlers managed to get the last two points to win this second set 25 to 23.  

This come-from-behind win had the fans wearing red jumping out of their seats and the hometown fans fidgeting in theirs, but most rewarding was seeing the Longhorns fans looking around like what they just witnessed could not have really happen.  But indeed, it did because Jenna Robbennolt and KiTu LeBeau smashed 5 kills each and Autumn Pitlick contribute 2 of her own to shut down and shut up the mighty Longhorns.  And the chant that was the loudest in the gym was now “Potter County” that was being screamed by the PC football boys who showed up to support the girls.  

Once more in the third set, the Longhorns got out to a 17 to 11 point lead but again nobody told the Battlers to rollover and quit because they played magnificently to tie the match at 21 points apiece.  To make the hometown fans fidget even more in their seat, the Battlers fought hard to pull ahead of the home team 23 to 21 but try as they may they just could not muster enough offense to win the match and fell 23 to 25.  They tried — God knows they tried —  because Jenna Robbennolt got 3 blocks in this set and Rachel Goebel got one, and it was huge.  It was so hard that it literally almost knocked the Longhorn girl down who tried to spike it as Rachel slammed it back in her face, but the best thing about Rachel’s block was you could hear the air go out of the hometown fans because they started questioning their team’s abilities to beat this team who had a way less impressive record.

The fourth and final set proved to be a classic.  The teams were tied 13 different times before the Longhorns managed to get a lead after the score was 16 to 16.  The Battlers finally got within one when Rachel Goebel threw up another massive block to thwart the Longhorn right in front of her trying to slam the ball making it 23 to 24.  The entire crowd went wild and the noise did not subside until the Longhorns got the next point to win the set and the match.

This was truly one of the greatest shows of the season, even though the Battlers suffered another tough loss.  In the stands even the Faith fans could not quit talking about how exciting it was and how hard their girls had to work to get the win.  Yeah, the Longhorns walked off totally pumped up but only because the Battlers made them earn each and every point they got.  As for the Battlers, it was more than rewarding to see that they have not given up on the season and fought valiantly against a team that was supposed to walk all over them.

The JV girls beat the Longhorns in two straight sets: 25 to 18 and 25 to 21.  There was no C Team Game.  In the first set their serving was more than reliable and offensively Tyler Simon, Megan Hermann, Makenna Miller and Dakota Goebel all got kills to hammer the young Longhorns.  In the second set Isabella Sautner, Tyler Simon, Megan Hermann, Kirstie Lake, Makenna Miller, and Aaliyah Canchola all recorded kills but due to the fact the Longhorns demonstrated considerably more offense it was the defense of the Battlers that won this set and match.  Haylie Ahlemeier, Tyler Simon Megan Hermann, Grace Goebel, Kirstie Lake, Makenna Miller, Dakota Goebel, Aaliyah Canchola, and Ashlee Kaup all tallied digs to keep the Longhorns at bay.

Varsity Game Stats – Serving: 84 of 90 / 8 Aces: Leaders: KiTu LeBeau – 2 Aces, Cassidy Goebel – 2 Aces; Attacks: 130 of 148 / 31 Kills: Leaders: Jenna Robbennolt – 9 Kills, KiTu LeBeau – 8 Kills, Autumn Pitlick – 6 Kills; Setting: 114 of 114 / 26 Assists: Leaders: Cassidy Goebel – 23 Assists; Blocks: 10 Solo Blocks: Leaders: Jenna Robbennolt – 6 Solo Blocks, Rachel Goebel – 2 Solo Blocks; Digs: 88: Leaders: Makaivry Schatz – 22 Digs, Kirstie Lake – 19 Digs, KiTu LeBeau – 16 Digs.

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