Rapid City Stevens took its game up a notch in beating Sturgis in four sets Tuesday at Carrold Heier Gymnasium, adding a couple new wrinkles to their offensive sets during their 25-15, 25-9, 23-25, 25-9 victory over Sturgis.
With postseason play coming up in two weeks, Raider head coach Kylie Voorhees said the time was right to start adding some speed to the Raiders attack, and Tuesday’s match was the match to take it from practice to the game action.
“You have one match left then your playoff match, so you’ve got to look different, you have to show some different things,” Voorhees explained. “You have to make a few adjustments at the end of the year, absolutely.”
The biggest change came in the form of Julia Lee, who finished with 34 set assists, using quick sets to Stevens’ middle hitters and short back sets to outside hitters coming in a foot or two behind her. The pace of the Raiders’ play kept Sturgis from getting its block in place for much of the match.
With Kyah Watson back from injury, Stevens has key player back in the mix to complete a talented group of hitters for Lee to feed the ball. Watson led the way with 15 kills, but Sammi Sundby chipped in eight kills and Bailee Sobczak and Jayda McNabb finished with seven each.
“Kyah is very dynamic. She puts the ball away in key situations,” Voorhees said. “We’re definitely not a one-person offense. We’ve got five attackers at all times, including our back row.”
The first two sets were all Stevens, as the Raiders jumped out to early leads in both sets to go up 2-0. While Stevens worked on its offense, Sturgis struggled to gets its offense on track.
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“Stevens took care of us the first couple sets,” Scooper coach Traci Fransen said. “We made a lot of errors collectively, serving, hitting, setting and passing. We gave them a lot of points and a lot of opportunities.”
After breaking away mid-set on the way to winning the first 25-15, a long serving string by Raider libero Laura Petik carried the Raiders to an easy 25-9 win in the second set.
Stevens jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the third. But a funny thing happened on the way to a sweep; the Scoopers dug in, hustled and hit the floor, and fought their way back into the match with a 25-23 win in the third set.
“The girls just played scrappy,” Fransen said. “They went all out for everything, and it showed.
“We eliminated a lot of the errors we were making, and we communicated really well on offense. Overall, we played a much better set.”
The serving of Grace Martin and Lee got the Raiders off to a quick start in the fourth set.
With Martin serving, Sundby gor a kill to stake Stevens to a 5-1 lead. Later in the set, with Lee serving, Watson, McNabb, Sobczak and Sundby registered kills as the Raiders grew their lead to 16-7. A McNabb block and back-to-back aces from Petik closed out the match, with the fourth set going to Stevens 25-9.
“Games one, two and four, we were really, really good,” Voorhees said of her team’s play. “We did some really good things. We implemented some new things that are only going to make us better.”
Stevens (20-10) is off until Thursday, Nov. 7, when the Raiders host Spearfish. Sturgis (11-18) also plays that night, visiting Rapid City Central in its regular-season finale. Both matches start at 7 p.m.