Volleyball: Wildcats hold off late charge by WingersGoodhue fights off a scrappy Red Wing team on Monday for a three-set non-conference victory
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
GOODHUE – In order to take Red Wing out of its game during Monday’s non-conference match, Goodhue made it a point to make the Wingers’ middle hitters a non-factor.
The Wildcats’ plan: serve tough and make Red Wing’s back row work hard for every pass.
“(The coaches) told me to go for their “5” spot and go after their libero,” said Goodhue junior Mikayla Tipcke. “That’s what I was aiming for most of the time.”
Fighting through a late surge by the Wingers, the Wildcats pulled away with the 25-11, 25-13, 25-19 home victory on Monday.
“We served really tough, especially in Games 1 and 2,” said Goodhue head coach Andy Kimball. “We know their strength is mostly out of their middles. … If you serve tough and pull their setter from the net, then it makes it difficult to get it to their middles.”
In the first two sets, things came relatively easy for the Wildcats, as they sprang to a 6-1 lead in the first set. Up 16-9, Goodhue (9-16-2) closed out the first set by winning nine of the next 11 points to go up 1-0.
With more lineup shuffling on Monday, Red Wing head coach Heidi Ulwelling admitted it was tough to find any cohesion early on.
“We’re looking for so many avenues,” Ulwelling said. “In any given night, it’s something new, which is refreshing, but it’s a challenge because it’s a new puzzle piece every night.”
The two teams battled point for point early in the second set before Goodhue went on a 6-0 run for an 18-8 advantage on the way to the 2-0 lead in the match.
From the service line, Tipcke found holes throughout the Wingers’ defense for a team-high two ace serves. She also led the Wildcats in kills (10) and set assists (23).
Trying to win a set for the first time since Sept. 8, Red Wing capitalized on some passing struggled by Goodhue in the third, tying the set at 12.
“When our passing gets down, then we have four bad passes, then it’s like, ‘OK, we need to shake it off,’” Tipcke said.
The Wildcats went on a five-point run before the Wingers, led by the serving of freshman Sarah O’Keefe, climbed back with a five-point run of their own to tie the third set at 17.
“(O’Keefe) served really tough at us and we didn’t control it,” Kimball said.
Ulwelling added, “I felt good with our level as far as coming back a little harder each set, which hasn’t typically been us. We usually sink a little bit, but tonight was different.”
Ultimately, an attack led by Tipcke and the rest of the Wildcats’ front line, pulled away with the victory once the passing got settled.
“Once we get one good pass, then we calm down more and more,” said Tipcke, who also had 10 digs. “We need one pass and we’re back.”
Mikayla Miller and Shelby Hinsch had eight and six kills, respectively, for Goodhue. Laurie Pearson led the Wildcats with 14 digs.
Mariah Book led Red Wing (4-21) with nine digs, while McKenna Schaffer added eight digs and a pair of ace serves. Macy Kelly led the team with four kills in the loss.
“We’re still falling a little short,” Ulwelling said afterwards, “but tonight was something that was overall positive. We’re definitely playing with more intensity.”
The Wildcats end the regular season tonight with a Hiawatha Valley League contest at Winona Cotter. The Wingers travel to Chanhassen tonight for a Missota Conference match to end their regular season.