SERGEANT BLUFF | Sergeant Bluff-Luton had an answer for everything Bishop Heelan tried here Tuesday, winning in a showdown of state-ranked Class 4A volleyball teams.
The sixth-ranked Warriors, in fact, defeated No. 3 Heelan for the second time in three days, improving their overall record to 31-3. SB-L, which won the match 3-1, also downed the Crusaders (24-9) in the Hull Western Christian tournament last Saturday.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton got off to a rapid-fire start and went on to win the first set 25-16 before Heelan claimed the second 25-13. The Warriors prevailed by 25-16, 25-21 margins in the final two sets.
“Heelan is a tough team and a quality program so this was certainly a big win for us,” Sergeant Bluff-Luton Coach Renee Winkel said. “We didn’t do anything different tonight than we’ve been trying to do all season. Stay disciplined, staying focused, doing the little things right. That’s what we’ve focused on since Day 1 and that’s what’s helping us win these big matches later in the season.”
The Warriors’ towering front line of 6-foot-2 Madison Harms, 6-foot Kylee Christensen and 6-foot Elle Sneller – not to mention 5-11 Kenzie Foley – were a handful, but Winkel said her defense was the difference in this one.
“We’ve got some height, which is definitely good for us, but I’m probably most proud of our defense,” Winkel said. “The defense really stepped up and made some plays that we haven’t all season long.”
Christensen, a senior, nailed a match-high 16 kills to go along with three blocks.
“Heelan is a really sound and strong team so us just coming out and playing as a team helped us,” Christensen said. “We put a lot of hard work in in practice all year long so beating them twice really means a lot to us. The hard work is paying off.”
Foley was next in line with 11 kills, while Harms added 10, Sneller eight and Abby Wisecup seven. Sneller also had 42 assists and three blocks, Foley 18 digs and Harms six blocks. Abby Minten led the Warriors with 21 digs and also rifled two ace serves.
“They did a real nice job blocking and playing defense,” Heelan Coach Mary Miller said. “We hit some nice shots but they just kind of dug them up and when they get the ball to Christensen or Harms they’re hard to stop because they’re big, physical and over the top of our block.
“The only thing we didn’t do very well tonight is we didn’t close the block very well. Then we thought we could power by their block but, again, they’ve got some size. Harms is like a double block herself so when you put another person with her it’s like trying to hit against a triple block.”
Sam McCabe paced Heelan with 13 kills and four blocks, while Nicole Jacobson chipped in nine kills and Alex Hope eight. Emma LaFleur charted 17 assists and Jordyn Knapp 14, while Taylor Wilshire had 15 digs. Jacobson came away with 10 digs, Allison Bermel nine digs and Knapp three ace serves.
SB-L scored three straight points to snap a 13-13 tie in the third set, then sealed the win with four more unanswered points, making it 22-15. The Warriors took control of the fourth set at the midway point but Heelan rallied to force an 18-18 deadlock.
The Crusaders were called for a violation and then Christensen tipped one over the net, putting SB-L back in front by two. Heelan got within a point on a kill by Hope, but the Warriors were able to close out the match.
“They’ve got just as many talented players as we do and they can hit shots,” Winkel said. “Tonight it was going to come down to kind of a gut check, it was going to be throw the ball up in the air and see what happens.”
The teams will tangle again in the Missouri River Conference tournament here Monday and could very well hook up in the post season since they are in different brackets.