MINONK — Fieldcrest senior Haley Ruestman admits her and her teammates were scared as the second set of Thursday’s match against Putnam County went into extra points.
However, Ruestman and the Knights put their fears aside and pulled out the set — with Ruestman putting down the decisive kills — and rode the momentum to a 24-26, 30-28, 25-10 non-conference victory over the Lady Panthers.
“We all just said we were really scared. I guess that’s not what we should say, but we were all together at the end,” Ruestman said. “Every time someone falls down, we have to pick them up. That’s what we did at the end to make us win.
“It was a relief (to win the second set). Knowing we won that, we knew we were going to take it in three. We knew if we had that intensity we could win the third one.”
After the Knights let a 24-20 lead slip away in the second set, Fieldcrest responded and eventually pulled out the set with a back row kill from Ruestman, an ace fro Kaitlyn Petersen and another kill from Ruestman.
“I think coming out with the win and pulling that out gave us a lot of momentum,” Fieldcrest coach Cathy Sanders said. “My captains (Petersen and Gracie Wiesenhofer) stepped up and I could hear them in our huddle saying, ‘Don’t let them in it. Don’t let them score.’ I think that’s how they played (the third set). We had some good leadership from seniors and good hustle. I’m happy with the way we finished out the third. We were talking, we were moving and we were making things happen.”
Fieldcrest took a 2-1 lead when Wiesenhofer set the ball over and did not trail the rest of the way.
Ruestman rattled off a five-point service run for a 7-2 Fieldcrest lead, and Courtney Moritz later put together a 10-point run to push the Knights’ lead to 19-4.
“Haley likes to place her serve and Courtney has a tough jump floater,” Sanders said. “Haley was one of our best servers last season. Courtney has a nice serve and when it starts to move, it’s hard (to handle). They both got in the groove.”
The big service runs helped the Knights improve to 5-1 and beat a squad they may see in a regional.
“It’s pretty big because a lot of times that’s what coaches are looking at when they seed teams,” Sanders said. “This year we’ve already played St. Bede andPutnamCounty(who were in the same regional last year) and we’ll see E-PG (El Paso-Gridley) down the road. It’s nice to see them now. It gives you what we need to key on and what we need to do. It gives us a little motivation that we maybe get to see these teams again.”
The Lady Panthers slipped to 3-2.
“Fieldcrest is very competitive,” said PC coach Amy Kreiser, whose team rallied from down 24-21 to win the first set. “But as we showed the first two games, we can compete with them. It’s just when the moment counted the most, it didn’t go our way. I hope our girls now know what to expect. They have a lot of drive and ambition. They know what they want out of the postseason. I expect them to come to practice (today) with fire in their eyes and ready to go.”
n Notes: Kreiser, a Fieldcrest graduate, returned to coach in her alma mater’s gym for the first time. … Fieldcrest won the sophomore match 25-14, 25-27, 15-2.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.