Pioneer closes strong, beats Rochester in 3 in potential sectional preview
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The volleyball match between Pioneer and host Rochester at the RHS gym Tuesday also served as a joint birthday party as both Pioneer junior libero Adeline Cripe and Rochester senior outside hitter Kylie Coleman were serenaded with festive wishes.
Pioneer, however, got the real gift, winning 25-17, 25-18, 25-14 and improving to 3-0.
Rochester fell to 0-2.
Pioneer coach Rod Nies did not call timeout during wins over Lewis Cass and Caston at the Cass County Tournament Saturday, but he burned a timeout in Game 1 against the Lady Zs after three straight Rochester points – two of which came on kills from Alexa Kouskousakis – cut what had been a four-point deficit to 17-16.
Pioneer responded by closing the game with an 8-1 run with Mandee Weisenburger putting down two tips, Kylie Attinger adding a kill, Blair Grigsby recording an ace, and Mackenzie Rogers adding a block.
Rochester hung within 16-14 in Game 2 before Pioneer closed on a 9-4 run. A kill from Keirsten Nies and an Elizabeth Rance ace closed out the game.
In Game 3, Rochester fought within 12-11 after a Coleman kill, a Kennedy Leap crosscourt roll shot that landed on the left sideline and a kill from sophomore setter Lillee Lett.
But Pioneer answered with a 10-1 run that included five aces from Grigsby and one from Brooklyn Borges.
A Kouskousakis kill to the back left corner and a Leap service winner broke up the run, but Pioneer finished with the last three points, including a Keirsten Nies kill on match point.
Coach Nies said some missed serves were a concern.
“I was more concerned with our serving than anything,” coach Nies said. “I felt like we kept them in all three sets with our missed serves. I’m not sure with what we had. I’m a percentage type guy. I look at the percentages, and I want us to serve tough and serve a high percentage and cut down on those errors. I always tell the girls any time you miss a serve, you give them the point, and it’s really a two-point swing because you give them the point, and they get the ball. That was the one thing I was concerned about most.
“Our ball in a couple rotations was a little shaky, but that’s to be expected this time of year.”
Meanwhile, Rochester coach Erin Leap said the team devoted all of Monday’s practice to serves received. She said they were able to incorporate what they learned in practice in the match.
Leap also said that the team served more aggressively than in their season-opening loss at Plymouth Saturday.
Meanwhile, coach Nies complimented Rochester on their scrappiness afterwards, and Leap agreed.
“Tonight I think we were very scrappy,” Leap said. “I think we got our hands on as many balls as we possibly could.”
Both teams typically play at the Harrison (West Lafayette) Invitational in mid-September every year, and they could also meet again in Class 2A, Sectional 36, which Rochester will host from Oct. 13-15.
“They have hard hitters every single rotation,” coach Leap said when asked what impressed her about Pioneer. “They’ve got a lot of setting power. They’re a very scrappy team. They’re a hard serving team. Everything.”
Watch full match here: