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  • Val T.

Bolinger gets 12 kills, Lett gets 28 digs as Lady Zs play to win, but NM wins in 4

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Aubrey Wilson

DENVER — Audrey Bolinger had 12 kills and three blocks, and Lilee Lett had nine kills and 28 digs, but the visiting Rochester volleyball team lost to North Miami 25-20, 17-25, 25-20, 27-25 Wednesday.

North Miami improved to 9-17 and 3-3 in the Three Rivers Conference. Rochester dropped to 3-16, 2-5.

Playing without ill junior defensive specialist Mia Howdeshell, Rochester was coming off a three-set win over Maconaquah Tuesday and in search of their first winning streak of the season.

Rochester staved off two match points at 24-23 and 25-24 before two Kaiden Hanley kills, one on a tip and a well-placed attack down the line wrapped up the match.

Hanley’s heroics came after Rochester trailed the Lady Warriors 22-14 in the fourth set but went on a 9-1 run to tie it. That run started with a Lett kill, a Brailyn Hunter tip and an Avarie Montel kill.

A Rochester dig error made it 23-17, but Ashtyn Halterman’s service error, and a Rylee Clevenger ace made it 23-19.

North Miami’s Grace Sailors hit into the net, and North Miami had a miscommunication on a Darah Strasser free ball to the deep corner. Timeout North Miami, but the run was not over.

Strasser and Bolinger combined to double block Sailors to get within 23-22. A Bolinger tip made it 23-all.

A Sailors tip to the open center of the court gave North Miami match point at 24-23, but Chloe Sparks’ service error made it 24-all.

Hunter was called for a lift to give North Miami another match point, but Bolinger erased it with another tip.

“I feel like we would have gotten it had we won another set,” Rochester first-year coach Laneia Strasser said. “We were finally starting to cover the tip. Our hitters were playing smart. They weren’t giving up. They were playing to win. It was just all starting to click. They were starting to trust each other and go for the ball.”

Rochester trailed 8-1 in the second set before rallying. Hunter was brought in and finished with four kills, an ace and five digs.

Rochester mixed up its attacks as freshman setter Aubrey Wilson delivered balls to Lett, Strasser and even Clevenger, the team’s libero, in the back row. Bolinger and Montel also got swings from the middle, and Hunter also contributed.

“She stepped up,” coach Strasser said of Hunter. “I needed her tonight to be a powerful hitter, and she did just that. She made smart choices. She knew when to swing hard, and she knew when to place it, and she knew when to tip. I needed her to do a certain task, and she came out there and did it.”

Rochester still trailed 16-15 before closing on a 10-1 run. North Miami used both of their timeouts during the run but could not stop a Lady Z effort that included three Montel kills. The last was the point of the night, a spectacular marathon point where Lett and Honkomp both flew near their bench to keep the ball off the floor before Montel won it on a tip to make it 23-17. A Hanley kill error and a Halterman net violation closed out the set.

“We took advantage,” coach Strasser said. “There were three rotations where they didn't have a powerful hitter in their front row, and they had a short front row. I said you have to be able to go to somebody else on offense and utilize when they don’t have those tall girls in the front row.”

North Miami does not list player heights on their roster, but the Lady Warriors appeared to have the height advantage with Holy Cross basketball commit Hanley, sophomore big hitters Sailors and Halterman and promising freshman Kayden Donaldson.

So Rochester had to be more scrappy.

“We had a lot of really long volleys, I felt like, today,” coach Strasser said. “We won quite a few of them, and they won quite a few of them. So to me, that just goes to show that there was a lot of scrappiness on both sides. I always think that’s something I’m going to strive to see improvement in. I feel like early on, I could have had some more scrappiness, but yeah, we came around.”

North Miami went on a 7-0 run in the third set to take an 8-3 lead. Back-to-back Sailors kills made it 18-10. A Hanley kill off the block would make it 22-13.

Rochester would go on a 7-1 run to get it back to 23-20 on a Montel roll shot and a Hunter kill, but a Lett service error and a back row kill from North Miami’s Gracyn Gidley gave North Miami a 2-1 lead.

Clevenger and Honkomp were back row stalwarts. Clevenger had nine digs and 26 serves received. Honkomp had 19 digs and nine serves received. Strasser had eight digs and 20 serves received. Lett also had 11 serves received. Wilson had 19 digs and 32 assists.

North Miami seniors Hanley and Gidley highlighted Mental Health Awareness during a pregame ceremony. Players and coaches on both sides wore t-shirts that read “Block the Stigma: Mental Health Awareness,” and green balloons were put up throughout the gym to honor the cause.

Funds raised were donated to a local charity promoting mental health.

North Miami def. Rochester, 25-20, 17-25, 25-20, 27-25

ROCHESTER STATS

Brailyn Hunter – 4 kills; Ella Hake – 1 kill, 1 dig; Darah Strasser – 4 kills, 2 blocks, 8 digs, 20 serves received; Aubrey Wilson – 1 kill, 1 ace, 1 block, 19 digs, 32 assists; Avarie Montel – 5 kills, 1 block; Lillee Lett – 9 kills, 28 digs, 11 serves received; Audrey Bolinger – 12 kills, 1 ace, 3 blocks, 5 digs, 2 assists; Logyn Honkomp – 2 aces, 19 digs, 1 assist, 9 serves received; Rylee Clevenger – 2 aces, 9 digs, 26 serves received; Brailyn Hunter – 1 ace, 5 digs; Keyton Doran – 1 serve received


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