Pioneer goes on 12-point run after Nies’ talk, sweeps North Judson
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ROYAL CENTER –- Elvis left the building. The Pioneer volleyball team merely left the auxiliary gym during their Hoosier North home match with North Judson Monday.
Elvis did not come back. Pioneer eventually came back for an encore that was better than the original show as they improved to 4-0 in the conference with a 25-14, 25-13, 25-15 win.
It was also a warning that with the IHSAA state tournament draw coming up on Oct. 3 and the team coming off a performance at the Leo Invitational Saturday that did not please coach Rod Nies that playing time would become more scarce for players that do not produce.
Pioneer trailed 14-13 in Game 1 when coach Nies called timeout.
He and the entire team left the gym briefly and took them to the hallway. Nies said that what was said was “confidential.”
Pioneer then won the next 12 points to close out the game. They were never threatened in the final two games.
North Judson, who won their Class 2A sectional last year, fell to 6-13 overall and 1-3 in the Hoosier North.
The Lady Panthers improved to 16-8, 4-0. Pioneer will play its final three Hoosier North matches in a six-day span – at Winamac Thursday, at LaVille next Monday, home vs. Triton next Tuesday.
“It was just a little motivation,” Nies said. “We started off really well, and then all of a sudden, it was like someone turned a light switch off. It was pretty much how we played all weekend. … We just played like garbage. It was just a little attitude adjustment.”
Nies added “we didn’t go out and compete” at Leo.
Nies did not speak in technical volleyball terms afterwards.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, and we’ve got a short time to get it done,” Nies said. “The biggest problem, I feel, is our lack of enthusiasm out there on the floor. Some girls are needing to accept their new roles on the team, and you know, we do this every year. It’s just this year, there are more kids involved.”
Nies said this is a typical process for the middle of September. Pioneer and Nies have excelled when it comes to the state tournament as they have won 15 consecutive sectional titles. More girls are vying for playing time, but it’s nearing time to narrow down the roster.
“We’re looking to start beefing our lineup and putting our best players out there,” Nies said. “We’re still searching. We’ve got a couple girls who are willing to step up and willing to step and be a really tough out. If they don't step up, then we’re going to struggle.”
Pioneer relies on seniors Hailey Cripe, Kennedy Corn, Carlie Morris, Emma Novaski and Mackenzie Robinson. Junior Mandee Weisenburger is a top outside hitter.
Sophomores Blair Grigsby and Mackenzie Rogers and freshman Keirsten Nies have all seen time at setter.
Watch entire match here:
Mandee Weisenburger Mackenzie Robinson