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Down to the wire

Creston and Shenandoah go five, but the Panthers pull away in decisive fifth set for 3-2 victory

Emma Hanson (9, left) and Sam Dunphy (behind, blocked) go up for a block attempt on Red Oak's Allie West (4) earlier this season.
Emma Hanson (9, left) and Sam Dunphy (behind, blocked) go up for a block attempt on Red Oak's Allie West (4) earlier this season.

SHENANDOAH – It was a battle to the final point, but Creston volleyball was victorious Tuesday night in a 3-2 set win over Shenandoah.

The Panthers went ahead early in the first set, taking a 10-3 lead before expanding it to 18-8. Creston ultimately took the early set advantage at 25-13.

Shenandoah retaliated with a good set of its own, going up 10-8. An eight-point lead was trimmed down to three at 18-15 by Creston, and was trimmed down to a one-point lead at 23-22 later in the set.

The Fillies held on for the 25-22 set win, evening the score at 1-1. The third set picked up right where it left off with both sides keeping it close.

Shenandoah opened up an 18-15 lead before Creston closed the gap and built on a lead of its own, scoring five straight to make it 20-18.

The Panthers had match-point at 24-20, but was unable to find it as Shenandoah evened up the score at 24-24. Despite tying it up, the Panthers held on for the set win to take a 2-1 advantage.

Fighting off the loss the Fillies watched as Creston pulled away to an 18-13 lead, but hauled off on a 7-2 run to even the score at 20-20.

The comeback run paid off for Shenandoah, closing out the set at 25-21 on a 16-3 run to force a fifth set.

With the fifth set being a race to 15, the Panthers took the lead at 8-3 and make it a commanding one, extending it to 12-3.

Creston picked up the fifth set win at 15-6 and its ninth win of the season, improving to 9-13 with a Hawkeye 10 record of 1-7.

Upping the aggressiveness at both the service line and on the attack were things Creston head coach Traci Haley emphasized in practice leading up to the match.

“We, in practice, really focused on serving aggressively,” said Haley. “We said we needed to be aggressive with it and we needed to swing and kill the ball. They were putting the balls down way more than they have and the serves were aggressive. We came up short a few times and long a few times, but they were trying to hit the box and be aggressive with it. I couldn’t be more proud of how they played tonight.”

The Panthers were very efficient at the line, serving 102-for-107 with five aces in what Haley believes was one of the best days for serving Creston had all season.

“I don’t think we’ve had a night of serving like tonight,” said Haley. “It was so huge.”

Despite the success on the floor for the Panthers, Shenandoah was able to match it at times and give problems for Creston across all five sets.

“They dug up a lot of things that we were hitting at them and had some quick hits out of the middle that we missed or out on the strong side that we couldn’t take care of,” said Haley. “That kind of kept them going and kept them with the momentum at times. They (Shenandoah) battled and played a great game.”

Haley had much to say on her team Tuesday night, point out a few individuals who impressed on the floor.

“Kaci Abildtrup just came in and hit the ball well tonight. Ryli Abildtrup served so well tonight and Rylie Driskell kept coming and setting up everything for Kelsey,” said Haley. “Our back row in MaKenna (Hudson), Maddie (Frey) and Peyton (Rice) just worked hard and kept putting those passes up and digging those balls out. ... Everyone worked so hard.”

The Panthers were led in kills by Fields with 14. Ryli Abildtrup had 13 kills and went 21 of 23 from the service line with two aces.

Driskell had a team-high 47 assists with 12 digs. She also went 19-for-19 at the line with two aces. She, Hudson (20-for-20) and Frey (11-for-11) were all perfect from the line.

Hudson also contributed 20 digs, a team-high.

UP NEXT – Creston will next play at home against Glenwood Thursday at 7:15 p.m.

Playoff pairing

With regional playoff pairings getting announced Tuesday night, Creston will open up Class 3A Region 3 play at home against Clarke (1-11).

Upon hearing the announcement of who the Panthers are facing, Haley expressed her happiness to be opening the playoffs in front of the home crowd.

“I don’t know what is better a win (Tuesday), or seeing that,” said Haley, laughing. “That was exciting and it’s huge for us. Just to play at home and to have our home court and crowd is going to be huge. We never want to overlook a team and we’ll be ready for them.”

Creston JV

Creston junior varsity wont two out of three matches, going 25-16, 16-25 and 17-15 against Shenandoah JV.

“We were a little short handed tonight but came out strong in the first set,” said coach Carmalee Woods. “We were aggressive with our hitting and covered the court well. We had trouble passing the ball in the second set but played smart and battled back in the third.”

Hannah Dryden led the team in kills with five. Karly Calvin was 11-for-11 on hitting with four kills and Halle Evans was 2 of 2 on attempts.

“Halle Evans did a great job of moving the sets around and Josie Travis and Keeley Coen really stepped up on defense,” said Woods. “I was happy with the aggressive play of all our front row players.”

Dryden posted seven digs and Calvin had six. Doryn Paup and Morgan Driskell each had two solo blocks.

Dryden was 18-for-18 on serving with four aces.

Freshmen go 3-1

The Creston freshmen battled with Shenandoah, winning 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 17-15, 8-5).

“Good win for our kids! We needed that,” said coach Mike McCabe. “Sets were close throughout. Proud of our kids for sticking with it.”

Caitlin Bruce was 13 of 13 on serving with eight points.

Jacy Kralik had a team-high six kills. Aleah Calvin and Neveah Randall had five kills apiece.

Creston 3, Shenandoah 2

Creston statistics

Serving (aces) — Ryli Abildtrup 2-23 (2), MaKenna Hudson 20-20, Rylie Driskell 19-19 (2), Peyton Rice 16-18 (1), Emma Hanson 15-16, Maddie Frey 11-11.

Attacks (kills) — Ryli Abildtrup 25-30 (13), Kaci Abildtrup 18-18 (8), Driskell 7-7, Brianna Fields 17-23 (7), Kelsey Fields 28-34 (14), Hanson 29-33 (11), Hudson 2-2, Rice 0-1.

Blocks — Kelsey Fields 7, Hanson 4, Ryli Abildtrup 2, Brianna Fields 2, Driskell 1.

Setting (assists) — Driskell 47, Brianna Fields 1, MaKenna Hudson 1.

Digs — Hudson 20, Driskell 12, Hanson 9, Rice 6, Frey 5, Brianna Fields 6, Kaci Abildtrup 4.

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