Underwood defeated West Central Area 25-19, 25-17, 27-25 in the Section 6A volleyball playoffs on Monday night.
The first set was back and forth with neither team getting much rhythm in their offense. “With the score 18-16 in our favor we got a big kill from senior outside hitter Kayla Rocholl, and 2 blocks in a row from senior Shaynah Smith to gain momentum,” reported Head coach Diane Ross. “We also got 2 big kills from Brooke Hovland down the ending stretch. In set two we had good control of the set, our blocking was on and we got some fantastic defensive plays from Brianna Evavold and Amber Frigaard. We started off with a big lead in set 3 behind the serving of Kayla Rocholl and then Brianna Evavold, who took us all the way to a 12-1 lead, Reese Richards and Ally Johnson got some big blocks in that stretch. But it's tournament time and teams will fight back, and West Central got things going for their team slowly chipping away at the lead. But we were able to come through in the end.”
Brooke Hovland had a great night at the net getting 23 kills on 49 attempts with only 4 errors. Kayla Rocholl chipped in 8 kills, and Josey Bugbee came through with 4 kills. Reese Richards made good choices on distributing the ball and ended with 37 assists and added 3 stuff blocks. Defensively, Kayla Rocholl led with 18 digs and added 2 blocks, Amber Frigaard added 10 digs, Brianna Evavold 6 digs and 3 ace serves. Ally Johnson and Shaynah Smith added 5 stuff blocks each and Josey Bugbee added 2 stuff blocks.
Underwood will now face Brandon-Evansville on Wednesday. The two teams met once this year with the Chargers winning the 5 set match.
“Underwood missed quite a few serves in game one and our defense played very well, although we didn’t get any ace blocks, we touched a lot of their hits which helped slow down the play and allowed us to set up our offense,” said WCA Head Coach Missy Foslien. “Underwood’s offense had some nice hitters who in the end put the ball down, while we struggled to get the ball to find holes in their defense and use all of our hitters. We let game one slip away in the end, but our play was solid. Game two we adjusted our strategy and had Savannah Swenson come in to help with blocking on the right side. Underwood had a couple of service runs in game two and it was difficult for us to catch up. Game three was exciting as we came back from a huge deficit twice, to fall 25-27 in the end. We missed a couple of key serves and just couldn’t take care of the ball to finish. It’s hard to win games when we have to send over free balls or tips. To win, you have to be able to put the ball down.”
Leaders for the Knights were Kaleigh Anderson (12/13 serving, 3 aces, 7 set assists), Kaylyn Ulrich (10/10 serving), Hailey Bennett (10 set assists, 10/11 serving, 4 kills), Emma Swenson (21 digs), Morgan Stark (21/27 serving, 9 kills, 16 digs), Liz Rustan (7 kills, 9/10 serving) and Ellie Herman (15/16 serving, 4 kills).
Lizzie Rustan had a very nice game and Morgan Stark had a solid defensive game and her hitting gave our team life,” added Coach Foslien. “Our right side defense with Kaleigh Anderson and Hailey Bennett was amazing as they received quite a few of Underwood’s attacks. Overall this team has improved throughout this season. Each time we faced an opponent, we played better than the time before. We are looking forward to building our team and will miss this year’s graduating Seniors: Hailey Bennett, Savannah Swenson, Kaleigh Anderson, Kaylyn Ulrich, Ellie Herman, and Hannah Holman.