The Scottsbluff volleyball team didn’t get the victory it so badly wanted Monday evening against a talented Class A North Platte squad.
But the Bearcats did gain the respect from North Platte coach Laura Miller, whose team got about all it could handle from the scrappy Bearcats before prevailing 3-1 (24-26, 25-20, 25-23, 25-13) at Scottsbluff High School.
The loss dropped Scottsbluff’s season record to 9-22.
“They did not look like that kind of a team,” said Miller, referring to Scottsbluff’s overall record. “I think they played really well. They gave us a run for our money.”
Indeed, Scottsbluff showed right away that it was determined to win and snap a four-match losing skid. Although the Bearcats trailed for much of the first set, including being down 23-19, they came up big down the stretch, putting together a 7-1 run to pull out a thrilling win.
“To come back and win that first set was really good to see,” Scottsbluff coach Megan Burda said. “When they’re intense, they play well.”
Miller, meanwhile, was disappointed that her team didn’t play more crisply at the beginning.
“We started off very slow – untypical of us, for sure,” she said. “I was glad they finished the way they did, but we’ve got to figure out how to start a little better.”
Scottsbluff continued to play tough in the second set, never allowing North Platte to lead by more than six points. The Bearcats, in fact, scored three straight points to close the deficit to 23-20, but North Platte responded with a kill and then an ace serve to win the set and even the match.
In the third set, Scottsbluff couldn’t have asked for a better start, jumping out to a 7-1 advantage. The Bearcats still led 15-10 before the Bulldogs started to chip away at the deficit. After tying the set at 22, North Platte finally went in front on an ace block. Moments later, Kylie Wroot closed out the frame with a kill, giving North Platte a two sets to one lead.
Miller was encouraged by the way her team rose to the occasion in the key third set.
“I just told them, ‘I believe in you guys; you’ve got to believe in yourselves and in each other,’” she said. “And I kind of reminded them of our powerpoint situation and what we had to lose or what we had to gain, and they responded very well.”
North Platte really got rolling in the fourth set, holding the lead at 10-7, 15-10, and 20-13. The Bulldogs then scored the final five points to put the match away and lift their season record to 15-10.
Although North Platte, which extended its winning streak to four matches, found a way to win the last three sets, Burda wasn’t disappointed with her team’s performance.
“I thought we competed very well, so I was very proud of them for that,” Burda said. “That fourth set wasn’t exactly what we wanted to see, but everything else they did a nice job, I thought.”
Miller said she was especially impressed with Scottsbluff’s serving.
“I can’t remember the last time that our serve receive was as bad as it was those first two or two and a half sets,” she said.
While North Platte will host Grand Island today, the Bearcats are off until Saturday when they travel to Columbus for the GNAC Tournament. It will be Scottsbluff’s final competition of the regular season.
Burda said she likes where her team is at right now.
“But I hope we can step up and be more consistent and play our best ball,” she said. “And I think we will.”
Statistical leaders for Scottsbluff included Amy Colburn with 23 digs and five kills; Kiley Guerue with five kills and seven digs; Savannah Menghini with nine digs and six set assists; Connor Ehler with eight digs and five set assists; Brayden Auer with nine digs and four kills; Lauren Miller with 23 digs; and Makayla Castro with 12 digs.
For North Platte, Allison Kuenle registered 17 kills and six digs; Wroot collected 12 kills; Olivia Nicholson had nine kills and two ace serves; Jackie Paloucek had six kills and three blocks; Alexis Menghini registered five kills; Anna Allberry contributed five kills and 11 digs; Madalynn Doughty had 17 digs; Alex Neff had 25 set assists; and Allie Sawyer finished with 19 set assists.