The one-two punch of senior Tawni Hellbusch and freshman Macy Peregrine carried Fullerton to a 15-25, 25-15, 25-20, 15-25, 15-7 victory over Heartland Lutheran Thursday in the final regular season match of the season for both teams.
Hellbusch slammed 24 kills and Peregrine added 11 to lead the Warriors (5-17) to the win.
But it wasn’t always easy.
“I think in the beginning, the first set especially, they kind of shut our hitters down, including our big girl Tawni,” Fullerton coach Megan Plumbtree said. “We just kept telling her, ‘Swing away, swing away.’ She did that and it paid off for her. She had an awesome game.”
Peregrine came through big at the end of the second set with three straight kills. She also had the final two in the fifth set to end the match.
“She’s a very good freshman and she’s not afraid to take charge out on the floor,” Plumbtree said. “We really enjoy having her as part of our varsity squad.”
Even though Hellbusch led the Warriors in kills, Heartland Lutheran coach Kathryn Ommen said it was Peregrine that really hurt the Red Hornets the most.
“Hellbusch did some things, but we picked at her,” Ommen said. “We made her play some defense. I would say that wasn’t what hurt us the most. I would say that was No. 11 (Peregrine). We couldn’t get her off the net. She can jump. So getting our timing down, adjusting to their hitters and what they can throw at us with different skills.
“Hellbusch played a good game, but (Peregrine) was their go-to girl.”
Sophomore middle Bethany Hollman provided much of the offense for Heartland Lutheran with a team-high 18 kills and five ace blocks. Courtney Hiegel added nine kills.
“We’re learning how to compete this year,” Ommen said. “We’re throwing a new offense at them and we’re continuing to learn from it.
“They’re disheartened. I told the younger girls I couldn’t be more proud of the seniors. We’re going to lose a lot of them. I encouraged the younger girls to hang on to that hurt. That’s learning to have competitive spirit, competitive fight.”
Heartland Lutheran will play in the Class D-2, Subdistrict 5 at St. Paul. The Red Hornets open play at 4:30 p.m. Monday against St. Edward.
“We’re pretty excited as a team,” Ommen said. “We’ll give them tonight to think about this one. We’ll be getting ready right away. We’ll be on the road again. We’re road warriors. We’ve been losing those close ones. We’ve had enough of those this season.”
Fullerton will play in the Class D-1, Subdistrict 4 at Central City. The Warriors open post-season play against Elba/North Loup-Scotia at 5 p.m.
“We finally have a little bit of momentum and we feel like we’re finally where we need to be this season,” Plumbtree said. “We feel like we have a subdistrict we can kind of compete with, so we’re looking forward to Monday.”
Fullerton (5-17).................................15 25 25 15 15
Heartland Lutheran (4-22).........................25 15 20 25 7
FULLERTON (Kills-aces-blocks) — Jolene Shotkoski 3-2-5, Kelly Steenson 1-2-0, Makenzie Lesiak 0-1-0, Macy Peregrine 11-1-0, Tawni Hellbusch 24-3-1, Jordan Gustafson 0-0-0, Ashley Laster 1-0-1.
HEARTLAND LUTHERAN (Kills-aces-blocks) — Stephanie Chandler 0-0-0, Courtney Hiegel 9-1-0, Hylie Dibbern 2-0-0, Bethan Hollman 18-1-5, Claire Hiegel 1-4-2, RaeLysa Schmitt 3-3-0, Hannah Niemeier 1-0-0, Sydney Schmitt 0-0-0, Amanda Paustian 0-0-0, Justine Bader 0-0-0.
Set assists — Fullerton: Lesiak 17, Steenson 12. Heartland Lutheran: Claire Hiegel 16, Courtney Hiegel 7.