Novaski’s serving run leads to Pioneer’s win in 4 over Rochester
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ROYAL CENTER –- The Pioneer volleyball team overcame a 9-0 game-closing run in the second game to beat visiting Rochester 25-15, 21-25, 25-8, 25-15 on Aug. 17.
Rochester led 7-4 in Game 3 before Pioneer scored the next 17 points. Emma Novaski dropped in a dipping, diving floating serve as part of the run.
After Rochester got a side out to finally break the run, Pioneer scored the final four points of the game with Hailey Cripe serving three straight aces.
Pioneer went on another 5-0 run in Game 4 to take a 6-2 lead, and they never trailed again. Junior Mandee Weisenburger had two kills sandwiched around a Mackenzie Rogers kill, and Mackenzie Robinson had an ace as part of a four-point run as the lead reached 18-10.
Just Like Game 3, a Cripe ace ended the match.
“They got hot,” Pioneer coach Rod Nies said of changing the momentum from Game to Game 3. “(Rochester coach Erin Leap)’s got a nice team. She does a good job of coaching. Erin always has. But our passing, our serve receive, kind of let us down. We were pulling our setter off the net, and she was taking a lot of balls behind the 10-foot line. And so we were out of system quite a bit. We had some hitting errors. I think the girls kind of got a little excited. But I was really proud of how they regained their composure. … We’ve got a lot of pieces. We’ve got a lot of talent. It’s just a matter of finding who is ready to step up and accept their new role.”
Already leading by a game, Pioneer went on a 5-0 run in Game 2 to take a 21-16 lead.
A Lexy Thomas kill gave Rochester a side out and put Kylie Houston behind the service line.
Houston had an ace, and Emily Hughes followed with a stuff block. Two Pioneer attack errors tied it at 21.
Alexa Kouskousakis won a joust at the net to give Rochester a 22-21 lead. Nies called timeout. A Houston ace and a Brooklyn Borges kill error made it 24-21. A Kouskousakis tip closed out the set.
“We just persevered,” Leap said. “We just really put our foot on the gas and didn’t let up. We haven’t done that a lot yet this year, so this was good.”
Three different Pioneer players – Rogers, a sophomore; Blair Grigsby, a sophomore; and Keirsten Nies, a freshman – split time at setter. They helped Pioneer overcome a 12-11 deficit in Game 1. Rogers had two kills sandwiched around two Nies aces as Pioneer went on a 5-0 run to take a 16-12 lead.
Rochester did not score another point on their serve in the game.
“Very aggressive,” Leap said of Pioneer’s serving. “They go for that end line, and then when you finally think you have it figured out, they go shorter. They’re always a good serving team.”
And that top server was Novaski, a senior back row player.
“She struggled a little bit in that second set, and she did exactly what I expect from a senior, and that is to shake it off and life moves forward,” Nies said. “I told her, ‘Novaski, you got this.’ You know what I expect out of you. Go out and do it. And she did. She played great defense. She passed the ball well. And then she got on that serving rotation, and she’s got a really nasty serve when she hits it right.”
Pioneer def. Rochester, 25-15, 21-25, 25-8, 25-15
Kylie Coleman – 1 kill, 2 digs, 1 serve received; Kenzie Bradley – 3 kills, 12 digs, 1 assist, 18 serves received; Lexy Thomas – 4 kills, 2 digs, 1 assist, 9 serves received; Kennedy Leap – 5 kills, 1 block, 7 digs, 1 serve received; Emily Hughes – 12 kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks, 3 digs, 1 serve received; Alexa Kouskousakis – 2 kills, 12 digs, 11 assists; Kylie Houston – 3 aces, 6 digs, 2 assists, 17 serves received; Audrey Bolinger – 1 ace, 1 block, 1 dig; Rily Holloway – 2 digs, 1 assist, 6 serves received; Emma Sells – 5 digs, 8 serves received; Kylie Freant – 1 dig
Watch the match here: