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Mendota’s Amy Devitt (No. 14) streches out to attempt a block while teammate Halie Donahue looks onward in Thursday’s Big Northern Conference West Division game in Mendota. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
MENDOTA — The Mendota volleyball team went through the first round of Big Northern Conference West Division matches undefeated.
The second go around has not been as kind to the Spikers.
In its third conference rematch of the season, Mendota lost 18-25, 25-21, 25-22 to Oregon on Thursday.
“Our conference is very close,” MHS coach John Holzman said. “The competition is very good. We’re looking forward to our next three games in conference. We have Stillman Valley, Winnebago and Rockford Lutheran. They’re not going to be easy, but if we play like we did tonight, we’ll finish strong.”
Thursday’s loss dropped the Spikers into a three-way tie for the BNC West lead as MHS, Oregon and Rock Falls all have two losses.
Despite the defeat, the Spikers (16-8-1, 7-2 BNC West) still have a chance for the conference championship, and Holzman was pleased with the effort in Thursday’s defeat.
“We played with intensity,” he said. “We played with heart tonight. The girls never once gave up. We played very well. Like I told them, I’m very proud of them for the way they played tonight.
“We played very well tonight. There were a couple little things, but other than that, if we continue the pace we’re at, I’m looking forward to regionals.”
The first set was tight early with neither team leading by more than four points.
A service error by the Lady Hawks (20-5-1, 7-2 BNC West) tied the match at 15-15 before Mendota junior setter Brooke Carroll rattled off four consecutive points to give the Spikers the lead for good.
MHS senior libero Elivia Ambler later closed out the set with a four-point run of her own.
In the second set, the Lady Hawks took the lead for good at 4-3 and eventually extended their advantage to 20-12 before Mendota made a late push.
The Spikers went on an 8-2 run — which included two kills each from Abby Bromenschenkel and Kaitlyn Horn — to pull within two at 22-20.
Mendota pulled within two once more at 23-21, but a Mendota error and a kill by Oregon’s Hailey Long ended the set.
The decisive third set was a back-and-forth affair that featured 16 ties and no leads of larger than two points before Oregon’s closing 3-0 run.
With the set tied at 22-22, Oregon’s Shannon Cullen killed a free ball, she teamed up with Emy Wright for a block and Wright ended the match with a kill.
“We held back a little bit and didn’t follow through a little bit on our game plan on one of their hitters,” Holzman said. “But other than that, our girls played great tonight.”
The Spikers played their first match without senior outside hitter JoEllyn Parks, who had season-ending knee surgery Thursday.
“I think that’s why we played so well tonight because they knew they had to adjust to JoEllyn being out,” Holzman said. “Kaitlyn (Horn) did very well tonight. I think she made one or two errors hitting, but she’s going to come along.”
Elivia Ambler had team highs of 23 digs and 13 points, while Abby Bromenschenkel had a team-high eight kills. Brooke Carroll dished out 17 assists and added 10 digs.
Note: The Spikers wore pink and raised money to fight cancer in honor of Carol Pollard, Mendota’s cafeteria supervisor who passed away in August. The money will be donated to the American Cancer Society through Pollard’s Relay for Life team.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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