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2A STATE: Defense carries The Meadows into title match

Defense didn’t win a championship for The Meadows’ girls volleyball team on Friday.
But it did bring the Mustangs one step closer to the Class 2A state title.
Twice rallying from a one-game deficit, The Meadows used a steady defense to down Pershing County, 13-25, 25-12, 17-25, 25-23, 15-10 in a semifinal at Silverado.
“We play with a lot poise,” said The Meadows coach Stephanie Heller. “We’ve been down in matches this year, and we’ve been able to come back. We focus on our defense every day in practice.”
 
The Meadows will meet Whittell in the state final Saturday at noon.
Senior libero Kristyna Fong registered 33 digs, 29 in the final four games of the match for The Meadows.
“She really leads by example out there,” Heller said. “It’s gotten to the point where the rest of our defense has picked up, and they don’t rely on her as much as they did last year. It’s turned us into a different team.”
Laura Walsh had 16 kills and 13 digs for The Meadows. Walsh’s kill from the left side, after three digs by Fong, ended the match.
“Our hitting errors hurt us early, but we made some adjustments,” Heller said. “We’ve got some good balance on offense.”
Austin McMillan added 15 digs and Sinead Lopez 12 for the Meadows. Junior setter Vanessa Hall dished out 31 assists.
Pershing County libero Michelle Montes had 33 digs. Araceli Jimenez had 18 kills, and Alyssa Holland had 37 assists for Pershing County.
Whittell outlasts Lincoln County
Apparently, Lynx have nine lives, too.
Unfortunately for Lincoln County’s girls volleyball team, its ninth ran out in the fifth game of a marathon match against Whittell in the state semifinals Friday at Silverado.
Lincoln County fought off four match points in the third game, another one in the fourth game and nearly overcame a 5-0 deficit in the decisive game. In the end, the six-time defending Class 2A champion Warriors pulled out a 25-17, 25-18, 24-26, 26-28, 15-10 win and set up a daye in Saturday’s final against The Meadows.
“We made a good comeback,” said Lincoln County coach Ken Thornock. “We kept fighting, and we showed a lot of courage.”
Almost nothing went right for the Lynx in the first two games, when they registered a total of just seven kills. Poor passing gave Lincoln County almost no chance to win early. The Lynx couldn’t get any offensive rhythm.
“We didn’t pass really well,” said Thornock.
But down 24-21 in third game, the Lynx got a kill from Erika Wilkin, three consecutive errors by the Warriors and an ace to begin to work their way back into the match.
“A lot of teams would have given up,” Thornock said. “We fought every point.”
Whittell rattled off the first five points of the fifth game — three on Lincoln County errors — and never allowed the Lynx to get closer than two points down. The match ended on a Lincoln County serve into the net.
Marissa Smerek had 11 kills and 16 digs for Lincoln County. Michelle Wheatley added seven kills and 16 digs.
Also for the Lynx, Kori Gloeckner had 10 assists and 13 digs, and Kelbee Cheeney added 11 assists and 11 digs.
Isabel Concha-Foley paced Whittell’s offense with 27 kills. Darby Reeder added 16 kills and 17 digs. Austyn Herrera dished out 50 assists, and Rachel Laub added 19 digs for the Warriors.
 

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