There won’t be a State appearance for the Chadron girls’ volleyball team this season as they were defeated by Mitchell in the title match Monday night at the Class C1-12 Sub-districts.

Despite bouncing back to win the second set 25-22, after a 25-14 defeat in the first, the Chadron Cardinals failed to contain Mitchell’s momentum as it built in the final two sets.

The Cards kept it close and led at times in the third set, which stayed tied off and on until the Tigers broke a 19-19 tie and ran away to the win.

The fourth set revealed the truth about the inexperience of the young Chadron group. With Mitchell taking advantage of their winning momentum, the Cardinals made multiple mental errors and seemed overwhelmed by the Tiger’s energy.

They’d manage to regain some punch later in the set, but by the time Chadron had reached 10 points, Mitchell had 22, and they’d eventually cruise to a 25-14 win to claim their spot at Districts.

First-year Coach Blakelee Hoffman thought her team played well against Valentine, whom the team defeated in three sets 25-16, 25-13, and 25-14, to begin the tournament, and also early on against Mitchell.

“Unfortunately the last set we weren’t quite in it, and we weren’t able to capitalize on what we needed to do.”

With the season over for the Cardinals, it’s difficult not to see the silver-lining of this team. You wouldn’t know it by their 15-22 record this season, but in its final 20 matches, Chadron had a winning record.

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The process has been there for a young team that will return all of its players next season.

“Everyone’s going to be back next year. We’ll be better, and bigger – we’ll improve,” says Anika Burke, who, as a freshman, has brought another blocking element and roster stability to the team.

The team has already shown its ability to improve, doing so somewhat methodically throughout the season. Mechanically, the team has looked as good as it has all year in recent games, and it’s not hard to see that their inability to match the intensity of Mitchell was an issue of youth that will improve with experience.

“Now that [the team has] had a full season of experience I’m really looking forward to next season. It can only get better,” says Hoffman.

“We played a lot of young girls, especially the freshman who have a lot of growing to do,” she continues. “Even some of our sophomores and junior, [there are] little things we can work on to tweak their hitting, or blocking…we’ll have some work to do over the summer and I’m looking forward to working with them.”

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