Hats off to the Simley Girls Volleyball team for its outstanding victory over perennial Metro East powerhouse Hill-Murray with awesome fans in the stands. The Spartans opened their home conference campaign by holding on for dear life to win set one after early steady play. Hill-Murray came roaring back in sets two and three to take a seemingly insurmountable lead. It did not look like it was to be the Spartans night when the Pioneers continued their solid play to take control of the first two thirds of set four. A gut check was in order. An old quote favored by old coaches is that any game in any sport can change on one point and the players found the resilience and the determination to battle on every last point in the set to squeak out a 26-24 win setting up the decisive fifth set. The turning point of the match came as the Pioneers pounded the ball at Junior Molly Stein who somehow got the ball up but wide toward the Pioneer bench. Sophomore Lauren Tuccitto reacted instantly and made a diving save back to the Spartan side where it was sent over the net. When Hill-Murray attempted another kill, the ball could not get past the perfect double block and just like that the Spartans won set four and were ready to seal the deal. Simley led by two points for most of the final set before pushing the lead to 14-9. Hill-Murray won the next two points to make the home crowd a bit nervous, but the Spartan twelve had played like a team dedicated to each other all night long and match point was no different as every player on the floor touched the ball to put away the match and defeat the Pioneers in a conference match for the first time in 12 years. On the offensive side of the ball, three senior hitters (Tiwaah Danso, Emma Heimerl, and Sydney Stensgard) each contributed 15 kills to the effort, while Senior Jackie Stickler added eight. Serve receive was outstanding, probably the key to the team’s success this night, and was led by Junior Brynn Rogers and Sophomore Bella Studer who along with Stein were very stingy on defense forcing Hill-Murray to earn every one of their points two or three times over as the Spartans notched 70 digs during the match. It’s easy to make a team, all you need is a little talent – It’s hard to be a team – Tonight you saw a team.
- 2 Hill-Murray
- 3 Simley High School
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