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  • Val T.

Pioneer avenges Cass County loss at Caston, wins 32nd consecutive conference match

Rogers, Borges, Grigsby combine for 26 kills


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Mackenzie Rogers

FULTON — The game of rock paper scissors going on during timeouts between the Pioneer and Caston volleyball student sections might have been totally up to chance, but the actual match at Caston Thursday was not.

Avenging their loss from 12 days earlier that ended their seven-year reign as Cass County Tournament champions, Pioneer rolled to a 25-15, 25-18, 25-13 win over the host Lady Comets to improve to 2-0 in Hoosier North play and extend their conference match winning streak to 32.

Pioneer has not lost a conference match since falling to North Judson in September 2018.

Pioneer is 6-3 overall. Caston fell to 8-2, 1-1.

“All the credit goes to Pioneer,” Caston coach Gina Hierlmeier said. “They came in, and we were on our heels pretty much all night. I didn’t feel like we serve-received the ball well. I didn’t feel like we were really offensively consistent, and that allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted to do. So they came in and played a great match this evening.”

Seniors Mackenzie Rogers, Brooklyn Borges and Blair Grigsby combined for 26 kills, and senior libero Adeline Cripe had a team-high 23 digs. Elizabeth Rance had 14 digs, and Rogers had 11.

Macee Hinderlider led Caston with nine kills. Alexa Finke had five, and Isabel Scales had four.

Hinderlider and Finke had two blocks each. Hinderlider also led with 12 digs and 13 serves received. Finke had nine digs and eight serves received.

Scales had 12 serves received, Karlee Sommers had 10, and Kylee Logan had nine.

Annie Harsh had 10 assists, and Makena Middleton had six.

Pioneer coach Rod Nies said after the Cass County Tournament meeting that his hitters had hit on an angle into the Caston block too often when hitting down the line was open.

Caston won the first two points of the match, but on the third point, Rogers hit down the opposite line to start a four-point run. At 4-3, Borges hit down the opposite line for a point, and Grigsby followed with an ace.

“Absolutely,” Nies said when asked if his team was conscientious about hitting down the line. “That was something for us to get to the next level that we’re hoping to get to, we’ve got to be able to hit those line shots. Because those other big teams … they’re going to take away the meat of the court, so we’re going to have to find those shots.”

Said Borges: “We practiced that all week at practice. We have trouble not seeing where our blocker is, and it really killed us the first game, but I think we were locked in. We knew where to go.”

Borges, an Ohio Christian recruit, said she continues to improve after ACL surgery last December. She wore a long sleeve on her leg at the Cass County Tournament. She wore a smaller covering over the knee and just under her knee pad this time.

“My goal is in the next two weeks to be back,” Borges said. “I think it’s just mentally. Rod says I’m physically there. I’m just in my head. I’m just too worried about being hurt. But everyone is. Who isn’t?”

Hinderlider and Scales followed with kills, and Caston would stay within a point before Pioneer would go on a 6-0 run to take a 15-8 lead.

The run included Rogers with a kill down the middle, a Grigsby kill off the block and a Rogers tip.

Caston stayed within 21-15 after a Keirsten Nies service error and a Grigsby kill error into the net, but a Caston double hit, a Grigsby stuff, a Grisgby kill and a Caston dump error into the net closed out the set.

Pioneer was leading a second set nailbiter 15-14 before a Nies tip fell on Caston’s side of the floor after hitting the net. Hinderlider was long from the back row. The teams exchanged service errors. It was 18-15.

Then Rogers went down the opposite line again, and a Caston ding dong play made it 20-15.

A Grigsby kill off the block and two Borges kills would eventually close out the set.

Pioneer then raced to an 8-1 lead in Set 3. Again, Rogers, a Vanguard University recruit, went down the line from the opposite side. Rogers also had two aces and a stuff block during the run.

Another 5-0 run that included a Rance free ball kill, a Nies service winner, a Kylie Attinger stuff block and a Rance kill off the Caston block after two overpasses made it 17-5.

There continues to be growing respect in a one-sided rivalry. Caston’s win 12 days ago was believed to be their first over Pioneer in at least 20 years.

“I just want to say Caston has got a hell of a nice team,” Nies said. “They really do. They’ve got some great athletes. A couple of those girls have played club for me for quite a few years. The Finke girl went up to Empowered (a volleyball club based in Fort Wayne), I believe, and played for my nephew. So I mean, they’ve got some athletes. Scales and Zimpleman, they’re like Hailey Cripe. They’re athletes, and they’ve got a drive. … They have a shot.”

Pioneer def. Caston, 25-15, 25-18, 25-13

PIONEER STATS

Adeline Cripe – 1 ace, 23 digs; Blair Grigsby – 6 kills, 8 assists, 4 digs, 1 block assist; Brooklyn Borges – 7 kills, 1 ace, 8 digs, 1 block, 1 block assist; Keirsten Nies – 5 kills, 12 assists, 7 digs, 1 block; Kylie Attinger – 2 kills, 1 dig, 1 block assist; Elizabeth Rance – 1 kill, 1 ace, 14 digs; Mackenzie Rogers – 13 kills, 2 aces, 13 assists, 11 digs, 1 block, 1 block assist

CASTON STATS

Karlee Sommers – 1 kill, 3 digs, 10 serves received; Kylee Logan – 1 kill, 1 dig, 9 serves received; Macee Hinderlider – 9 kills, 2 blocks, 12 digs, 13 serves received; Isabel Scales – 4 kills, 1 block, 7 digs, 12 serves received; Alexa Finke – 3 kills, 2 blocks, 9 digs, 8 serves received; Addison Zimpleman – 2 kills, 1 block, 8 digs, 2 assists, 5 serves received; Makena Middleton – 2 digs, 6 assists; Annie Harsh – 6 digs, 10 assists; Madi Douglass – 2 serves received


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