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Hot start, cool finish

Creston volleyball falls off against 5th-ranked St. Albert

What started in the Creston volleyball team’s favor quickly turned into a run-of-the-mill three-set victory for St. Albert in Creston Tuesday.

Creston jumped ahead 5-1 to start the night with a four-point run before a service error slowed the Panthers.

That stretch was Creston’s longest (four points) of the night, as the Panthers found themselves dwelling too much on errors.

“I think we really stepped our game up a lot. That first set really, I think the difference was errors and how we reacted to those errors. We missed four serves every set,” Creston co-coach Mallory Peterson said.

Creston did grab a 10-7 lead after a Samantha Dunphy smash and and some aggressive play offensively and defensively, but the Panthers then surrendered four consecutive points to fall behind 11-10.

“She (Dunphy) definitely is coming along as a player. Really nice for us,” Peterson said.

After falling behind 10-8, St. Albert scored seven of the next 8 points for a 15-11 lead.

Mistakes and unfortunate bounces went against the Panthers as St. Albert seized control.

“Then when we were kind of bouncing back and forth around 11, we had a couple balls just drop for no reason,” Peterson said. “Mental focus gone. Sure it happens, but we didn’t react well to those.”

The Panthers’ communication suffered, and Creston gave away points.

St. Albert won set one 25-16.

Set two didn’t swing any particular way early on and Cayla Maitlen got heavily involved, as she began chewing up attack opportunities (she went 40-45 on attacks) and ended up pounding home eight kills.

After a Breanna Wallace kill made it 8-7 in favor of St. Albert, Creston fell back further to 12-9.

Creston continued mixing up its hitters, but could not string together points.

“I thought they moved the ball around well and their hitters were very aggressive,” St. Albert coach Angie Lantz said.

But again, St. Albert eased to a win, this time 25-19.

Continued mistakes, serves included, plagued the Panthers, who did not play the type of ball needed to knock off a top flight team.

“They’re all athletic enough that they can go back there and serve the ball in play,” Creston co-coach Noami Sharp said about Creston’s players as it concerned their serving. “That comes down to mental focus.”

Time and again, any confidence Creston gained was erased by St. Albert’s uncanny ability to dig up the volleyball on difficult chances, while also failing to stop the thunderous kills coming from the likes of the Saintes’ Sydney McLaren. She tallied 11 of the Saintes’ 38 team kills.

The final set was not near as competitive, as what was a 9-6 St. Albert lead ballooned to 21-9 and ended in a 25-15 win.

Intelligent net play from Bailey White and Jordyn Blaha helped St. Albert put the match away. Blaha added nine kills.

Sharp and Peterson heralded the play of Maitlen and MaKenna Hudson, the latter of whom had 14 digs.

“She’s all over the place,” Sharp said, of Hudson.

The Saintes have now lost just six sets while in the midst of a 14-match winning streak.

UP NEXT — Creston (5-5) travels to Denison-Schleswig for a matchup on Thursday. St. Albert (14-1) plays at powerful conference foe Kuemper Catholic on Thursday.

Junior varsity

The Creston junior varsity team lost in two sets 27-25 and 25-8.

“This was a good match for our JV team. St. Albert ran a quicker tempo offense than we’ve seen and it was nice to see our girls play against that,” Peterson said. “... We struggled in serve receive some, but I was happy with our defense against a tempo we hadn’t faced before. Games like this will make this young team better.

Kesley Fields had five kills, and Rylie Driskell was successful on all 10 of her serves. Karly Calvin and Peyton Rice had seven and nine digs respectively.

St. Albert 3, Creston 0

Serving (aces) — Cr: Bree Ross 8-9, MaKenna Hudson 7-8, Taylor Buxton 7-8, Cayla Maitlen 7-11 (3), Breanna Wallace 5-6, Megan Haley 4-6, Samantha Dunphy 1-3.

Attacks (kills) — Cr: Maitlen 40-45 (8), Wallace 18-18 (5), Buxton 12-14 (4), Haley 7-9 (2), Dunphy 5-8 (1), Kelsey Fields 3-3 (1), Hudson 3-4.

Blocks (solo-assists) — Cr: Dunphy 3, Haley 1, Buxton 1, Wallace 1.

Setting (assists) — Cr: Bre Ross 21

Digs — Cr: Hudson 14, Maitlen 12, Buxton 11, Wallace 8, Ross 5, Haley 1, Fields 1, Dunphy 1.

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