Be defeated and go home – or win and fight another day.
That was the scenario the Battlers faced when they traveled to Herreid to take on the Herreid/Selby Area Wolverines on Tuesday, Nov. 5 – the first round of the Class B playoffs. And battled they did because it was a hard-fought contest that went four long sets. Those attending had no idea who would win each set until the very end. However, for a change, Potter County was blessed with a kiss from an angel, instead of the usual bad luck that they have had so much of this season. For it was the Battlers who were triumphant on this wintery night: 22 to 25, 25 to 21, 25 to 18, and 25 to 21.
The Battlers fought hard in the first set to only come up short. The faithful began questioning if the girls had enough in them to fight back. This set was extremely exciting to watch because it was tied 11 different times with the last being at 22 points apiece. When the girls wearing red were on the attack, they looked impressive but as errors haunted them in previous games, they so haunted them in this set as well. At one point, the Wolverines got four straight aces in a row because the Battlers simply could not handle the serves and shanked them backwards out of play.
But when they did handle the ball as taught and set it up, they scored kills that made the crowd cheer and scream. Jenna Robbennolt led the way with 5, followed by Autumn Pitlick and Makaivry Schatz getting 2, and KiTu LeBeau and Rachel Goebel getting 1. Unfortunately, the Battlers stumbled at the end and the Wolverines got the last three points to win 25 to 22.
With the Wolverines winning the first set and having previously beat Potter County in their last meeting on Oct. 8 in Hoven, they clearly felt the momentum and quickly had the Battlers down 3 to 0 in the second set. What they seemed to forget was that the Hoven match went five sets and they barely won. They also seemed to not recall that Potter County clipped them in the 2019 Yellowstone Trail Conference Volleyball Tournament on Aug. 31 in two straight sets.
So, once the Battlers recovered from their miserable start to tie the Wolverines at 4 points apiece, it became another slugfest as the two teams traded points back and forth. To everyone’s delight there were five more ties until it became all tied up at 19. Making it even more thrilling were the several great saves in this set; the best being when Cassidy Goebel chased down a shank ball that went off another Battler from a hard spike that was going out of bounds and heading towards her own bench. Cassidy hit the ball backwards over her head and unfortunately into the net. When it looked like a lost cause, KiTu LeBeau suddenly pivoted and retrieved the wayward ball bouncing out of the net and to the surprise of everyone in the gym, returned it to the Wolverines side of the court by falling backwards herself and punching it over head too.
The gym erupted and this was the moment the tide turned to favor the red and white.
The main force behind the shift was Jenna Robbennolt literally hammering the ball on each kill that proved to be too much for the ladies wearing black. She wound up recording 8 kills in this set and single handedly had the Wolverines on their heels. Having Jenna’s back were seven other Battlers because they all tallied digs in addition to the hustle and determination they all had to chase down every ball hit back across their side of the net. This strength and grit were indeed the key for the Battlers to prevail and win the second set 25 to 21.
The third set belonged to the Battlers, but they had to earn it. Jenna Robbennolt recorded 8 more kills followed by Makaivry Schatz getting 4 of her own as well as Autumn Pitlick, Cassidy Goebel, KiTu LeBeau, and Rachel Goebel all scoring one themselves. More importantly, they recovered quickly when again they looked like they may falter because the Wolverines jumped out to another 3 to 0 lead due to receiving errors on serves. The Battlers took a faithful look up above for divine intervention when the Wolverines rolled to a 17 to 10 point lead and all of sudden found themselves tied at 17 points apiece. The prayers must have been heard because Jenna and the girls kept attacking and wound up beating the Wolverines 25 to 18 to get their second set win.
The fourth set was a pure cardiac attack for those who made the drive to witness firsthand this battle between number 4 and 5 of Region Two. The Battlers looked great right from the beginning of this set because they beat on the Wolverines until they got a 20 to 10 point lead. Instead of putting the host team out of its misery, they let the Wolverines pick themselves up off the carpet and get within two points — 23 to 21 — to almost steal the victory from the Battlers. With Potter County’s repertoire of letting teams steal games away from them throughout the season, the air went out of Herreid’s nostalgic gym for all the supporters of the Battlers because the Wolverines’ fans were now screaming and anticipating a come from behind win. But instead of history repeating itself, the Battlers finally put the game away by scoring the last two points to beat the favored Herreid/Selby Wolverines 25 to 21.
The Player of the Game was clearly Jenna Robbennolt. She had 23 kills, was 11 for 11 in serving, 2 massive blocks and 1 assist, 7 digs, and only 2 errors out of 48 attacking attempts. Jenna truly brought a bazooka to a knife fight but her sidekick (all superheroes have sidekicks) sophomore Makaivry Schatz was more of a ninja by slicing and dicing up the Wolverines defense with her precision kill shots. With Jenna graduating, she will be the last of the Big Hitters for the Battlers for quite a while, but all is not forsaken because the next couple of years should be the “Big Mak Attack Show.” Even though Makaivry does not bring the thunder like Number 13 does, she is nevertheless an assassin when it comes to spiking the ball back across the net.
Again, the girls earned the right to take on the number one team in Region Two, the Faulkton Trojans on Thursday, Nov. 7 in Faulkton. Hopefully how hard they fought in Herreid will carry over because they will again be pitted against the number two ranked Class B team in the state. So, with Jenna’s thunder, Makaivry’s precision, and the overall tenacious defense from all the Battlers, there could be an upset in the making – prayers have been answered before.
Varsity Game Stats – Serving: 91 of 95 / 8 Aces: Leaders: Jenna Robbennolt – 3 Aces, Makaivry Schatz – 2 Aces, Autumn Pitlick – 1 Ace, KiTu LeBeau – 1 Ace; Attacks: 148 of 167 / 34 Kills: Leaders: Jenna Robbennolt – 23 Kills, Makaivry Schatz – 9 Kills, Autumn Pitlick – 7 Kills; Setting: 148 of 148 / 45 Assists: Leaders: Cassidy Goebel – 40 Assists; Blocks: 3 Blocks 2 Block Assist: Leaders: Jenna Robbennolt – 2 Blocks 1 Block Assists, Autumn Pitlick – 1 Block 1 Assist; Digs: 110: Leaders: Makaivry Schatz – 30, Autumn Pitlick – 26 Digs, Kirstie Lake – 18 Digs.
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