Pioneer beats Triton in 3, clinches Hoosier North title
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ROYAL CENTER –- Hailey Cripe had 11 kills and five aces, and Mackenzie Robinson had 17 digs to lead the Pioneer volleyball team to a conference title-clinching 25-11, 25-13, 25-12 win over visiting Triton at the auxiliary gym on Sept. 28.
Pioneer improved to 19-9 overall and finished 7-0 in the Hoosier North. They have gone undefeated in conference play three straight years. The win over Triton was their 23rd consecutive win in the Hoosier North.
Mackenzie Rogers led the Lady Panthers with 13 assists, and Blair Grigsby had 12. Rogers also had nine digs. Carlie Morris also had five aces to tie Cripe for the team lead.
“It feels great,” Pioneer coach Rod Nies said. “At the start of the year, we knew we had some question marks. And we graduated three big seniors (Olivia Brooke, Madison Blickenstaff, Mackenzie Walker). And we knew that the conference was going to be wide open. I kind of figured it was going to come down between us, Triton and Caston, and it did. I felt like Knox had a shot at that as well.
“I was pretty pleased with how the girls played tonight. It was a total team effort. It looked like a totally different team than what we’ve been playing like recently.”
Pioneer won four conference matches in nine days to close out the conference title. They did it without sophomore Brooklyn Borges and junior Crystabelle Blickenstaff, both of whom are nursing ankle injuries. And they did it against a Triton team that had significant height with Addyson Viers and Maci Hensley.
“We try to double-block everything,” Nies said. “And so we focus on their primary hitters. We don’t focus that much on the other hitters. If you’re going to beat us, it’s going to be the other players that are going to beat us. You’re not going to stop great players like Viers and those others on getting some kills, but we just want to slow them down. We don't want them to go off on us, so we make sure we set our double-blocks in front of them, and we play our defense behind.”
It’s also a potential regional preview. Pioneer and Triton could meet again in a Class 1A regional final at Culver on Oct. 23. Pioneer has won 15 consecutive sectional titles while Triton has won six sectionals in the last seven years.
Pioneer def. Triton, 25-11, 25-13, 25-12
Blair Grigsby – 2 aces, 12 assists, 2 digs; Carlie Morris – 5 aces, 7 digs; Emma Novaski – 8 digs; Hailey Cripe – 5 aces, 11 kills, 6 digs; Kaitlin Weldy – 1 dig; Keirsten Nies – 2 kills, 2 assists, 1 dig; Kennedy Corn – 3 kills; Kortnee Kline – 1 kill; Kylie Attinger – 1 kill, 1 dig; Mackenzie Rogers – 1 ace, 8 kills, 1 block, 13 assists, 9 digs; Mackenzie Robinson – 1 ace, 17 digs; Mandee Weisenburger – 6 kills, 1 dig
Watch Entire Match Here:
Mackenzie Robinson Keirsten Nies