La Salle-Peru volleyball coach Mark Haberkorn will take his team’s 25-12, 25-23 victory Thursday over Dixon.
He just doesn’t have to be happy with it.
After the Lady Cavaliers dominated the first set of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division match in La Salle, L-P struggled in the second set as it had to battle back from an early deficit, lost a big lead and then needed to win the game’s final two points to escape with the victory.
“In Game 1, we had a lot more flow and a lot more rhythm,” Haberkorn said. “Game 2 was just a game where we played inconsistently. One minute we looked good, and the next minute we struggled a bit. And Dixon looked a lot better in the second game, too.”
After L-P built a 5-1 lead in the first game and cruised to the opening-set victory, it struggled from the start in Game 2 as Dixon scored the set’s first four points and took a 5-1 lead.
The Lady Cavs battled back to 5-4 and the match was tied at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 before L-P came alive.
Behind the serve of sophomore outside hitter Taylor Gibson, the Lady Cavs went on an 8-0 surge to take a 20-12 lead.
However, the match was far from over.
After the teams each traded a point, Dixon went on a 7-0 run to cut a 21-13 deficit to 21-20. During the stretch, Haberkorn called a pair of timeouts as Dixon served up two aces and L-P committed four hitting errors and was called for a lift.
“We just weren’t talking as much in the second set, and we kind of got down on ourselves a little bit, which didn’t help,” junior middle hitter Ellie Senica said.
Following the second timeout, a kill by L-P’s Shana Puetz ended Dixon ‘s surge and gave the Lady Cavs a 22-20 lead.
However, an L-P serve in the net and a lift call against the Lady Cavs tied the match at 22.
A setter kill to the back corner by senior setter Katie Olson put the Lady Cavs back in front 23-22, but a kill by the Duchesses tied the game at 23.
Luckily for L-P, it closed the match strong as a Gibson kill and a long kill attempt by Dixon ended the set and the match.
“Our first game, we came out strong and played really well,” Olson said. “The second game, we kind of let down and had to fight back. We mentally just had a slight breakdown and we just had to get back up. It was a rough one, but it’s still a win.”
Gibson finished with 12 points, seven digs, three kills and two aces, while senior middle hitter Rachel Hunt had six points and four kills. Olson dished out 21 assists, and Senica put down a team-high seven kills. Puetz also served up a team-high 10 points.
Even with the sluggish second set, L-P remained a perfect 13-0 on the season and won its second NIB 12 West game this week.
The win was just the fourth home victory this season for the Lady Cavs, who played nine of their first 11 matches on the road, including a winning a pair of tournaments.
“It was definitely a little weird to be at home because we’ve been on the road so much with tournaments and matches, but it’s a great feeling to be back at home, and I love playing here,” Olson said. “We actually have fans cheering us on, so is a great thing.”
Note: L-P swept the night as it won the sophomore contest 25-2, 25-5, while the L-P freshman Red was victorious 25-19, 25-17 and the freshman Green prevailed 25-12, 25-11.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.