Volleyball fever was at its peak when the Lady Potter County Battlers stormed the North Central Thunder’s homeland on Thursday, Aug. 30 for the season opener in Bowdle. Even though the pending battle was in the Bowdle High School gymnasium all the noise and commotion belonged to the large army in the red and white because the Battlers outnumbered the Thunder easily two to one. Even the crowd size favored the visiting team and the ruckus for this invading force only grew louder when the bleacher fanatics – Potter County football players all dressed in their white garb – showed up to root on the girls to victory.
Being in full force and with so many returning battle tested players, the Potter County volleyball team did look impressive when they stormed the court to commence their pregame rituals. Nobody there would argue that the girls were not fired up and anxious for this game, as well as the season, to commence, and they did not disappoint either because they won in three straight sets: 25 – 22, 25 – 16, and 25 – 22. But it was also easy to see that they were all suffering from first game jitters because they started off like a can of pop, all shook up and exploding because they were out of sync, making unforced errors, and quickly down 0 to 4 in the first set before they gained their composure. Even after the Battlers took the lead in this set, they lost it – twice – before they eked out a comeback win, which can be contributed to Coach Jamie Cronin shuffling players in and out to find the right combination.
In the second set, it was the seniors who stepped up to hammer the Thunder. Both Autumn Pitlick and Jenna Robbennolt rifled kill after kill, and KiTu LeBeau, Cassidy Goebel, as well as Hope Rausch sheared up the defense to make any scoring for the Thunder difficult. Plus, the Super Sophs – Makaivry Schatz, Kirstie Lake, Halyie Ahlemeier, and Dakota Goebel — also excited the crowd by hustling and defending all over the court.
The third set once again proved tough going for the Battlers because the undersized Thunder never quit. They seemed to be stealing points away from the Battlers by being quicker at times and taking advantage when the Battlers would make an error or misplayed the ball. Again, as in the first set, the Battlers had to come from behind to beat back these pesky Thunder players.
Once more, it was the seniors who took over and Robbennolt was the force behind the bang that finally erupted because she scored four of her eight kills and had two of her killer blocks that wowed the crowd in this final set. Two of LeBeau’s kills came in this set as well to help contribute to distancing themselves from the Thunder, and Pitlick was digging balls in both the frontline and backline to stop North Central defensively. Both C. Goebel and Lake earned multiple set points by ensuring other players could slam the ball back over the net to finally put a stop to the Thunder stealing a victory away from the Battlers.
In the undercard, the Battlers Junior Varsity won in two sets: 25 – 12 and 25 – 14. Also, the C Team won as well: 25 – 21 and 15 – 8. In both of these matches, it was obvious that all these young Battlers were excited just getting their chance to show their coaches, and those who came from the south to support them, what they could do to be part of the Big Red Machine by playing aggressively and at full tilt to dominate their opponents. Due to so many girls being out for volleyball this season, it really did look like one red and white wave crashing onto the shore again and again as they were constantly rotated in and out.
Finally, a shout out to the Fab Frosh from last year who are now the Super Sophs. These young girls are indeed a fine crop of athletes that Potter County is going to count on for the next few years to make volleyball great. But actually, this group will sooner or later be the core for basketball and track teams as well. There are definitely a bunch of fabulous young ladies within this particular class who will make Potter County competitive and victorious for years to come. They may be short statured but what they lack in vertical tenacity they make up in hustle, grit, and guts. So, with strong senior and junior players this year, these sophomores will do a great job complementing them. There is no doubt when it is their time, they too will be strong and dependable players who will continue to make volleyball a crown jewel for Potter County sports.
Serving: 58 of 76 / 11 Aces: Leaders: Cassidy Goebel – 4 Aces, Autumn Pitlick – 3 Aces, KiTu LeBeau – 2 Aces; Attacks: 58 of 69 / 24 Kills: Leaders: Jenna Robbennolt – 8 Kills, Autumn Pitlick – 8 Kills, KiTu LeBeau – 3 Kills; Setting: 69 of 69 / 21 Assists: Leaders: Kirstie Lake – 11 Assists, Cassidy Goebel – 10 Assists; Blocks: 5: Leaders: Jenna Robbennolt – 4, KiTu LeBeau – 1; Digs: 30: Leaders: Autumn Pitlick – 13, Haylie Ahlemeier – 5, Kirstie Lake – 4.
POTTER COUNTY NEWS SPORTS