Thursday’s Missota Conference match with Shakopee ended in a loss, but the second-set play by Red Wing was something to note for the downtrodden Wingers.
After losing the first set to the Sabers 25-12, Red Wing jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the second set. Shakopee ended up tying the set, but the Wingers ultimately tied the match at 1-1 with a 25-22 second-set victory.
The Sabers ultimately won in four sets, 25-12, 22-25, 25-10, 25-16, but that could not knock Red Wing enthusiasm as they won a set for the first time since last September.
“These girls tonight, it was so nice to see them play together,” said Wingers’ head coach Heidi Ulwelling. “Our defense came together and our offense was working for us. Shakopee is easily the best team we’ve seen and they had two very good hitters. … What I’m noticing from our team is they’re playing better against more competitive teams.”
Sophomore Sydney Book put up a monster game for the Wingers with 16 kills and 20 digs. Libero Maria Furlong finished with 11 digs and four ace serves, and McKenzie Cota paced the offense with 20 set assists.
“I think (Shakopee) was shocked,” Ulwelling said. “We dug their hard hits; they had smart hitters and we played solid defense tonight. … They’re buying into the idea of, ‘Hold your head up, stay gritty, stay competitive.’”
Throughout the match, Red Wing was able to start fast. The Sabers (1-4, 1-0 Missota) caught up in three of the four sets, but everything culminated into a solid outing for the rebuilding Wingers.
“The first set we led 5-0, the second set, we go up 8-2 and then up 13-9,” Ulwelling said. “We had a lot of compliments from (Shakopee’s) fans, and their coach had a lot of good things to say.
“It was fun to see them play like that,” Ulwelling added. “After the game, I asked the girls, ‘Was that fun?’ And they all said, ‘That was awesome.’ Now they’re getting a feel for it. They’re catching on match by match.”
The Wingers (0-4, 0-1 Missota)are back home for a pair of games next week, hosting Rochester Century on Tuesday then Farmington in conference play Thursday.