LINCOLN – There isn’t anything quite as dangerous this time of the season as a pack of seniors determined to do some damage in the final weeks of their high school career, as was evident Thursday night at Lincoln North Star.
North Star’s 1-2 punch of seniors Sarah Allick and Ashley Kistaitis each hammered 16 kills on senior night to lead the Gators to a 25-23, 25-15, 32-25, 25-19 win over Lincoln Southeast. The win improved North Star to 19-9 on the season, including 9-1 in its last 10 matches. Southeast dropped to 18-13 with the loss.
The win clinched the #2 seed in next week’s Heartland Athletic Conference tournament for the Gators and also strengthened their grip on the #7 spot in the NSAA wild card point standings, which would mean North Star will host a district tournament if it can maintain that standing.
“The girls really want that. That’s been their goal from the beginning,” North Star coach Jessy Denker said of the potential to host a district tournament. “I said they needed to show that not just say it and they’ve really been stepping up to the plate and doing that.”
Allick has stepped up to the plate as well in the past week and has shown the ability to dominate a match from her middle hitter position. She had three solo blocks to go with her 16 kills on the night. The Augustana recruit took over in the fourth set, pounding six kills and getting a block. Allick credited Denker with pushing her to be a force.
“Jessy’s whole thing is that, ‘Sarah, you need to believe you’re unstoppable.’ Playing with that mentality will make a big difference for all of us,” Allick said. “The game of volleyball is all about mentality when it comes down to it. Unstoppable is the name of the game right now for us.”
“When (Allick) jumps and when she reaches, she is so hard to block. So, she just has to use her whole potential every single ball and she has to go in with that mentality that she’s going to be unstoppable,” Denker said. “And when she does that, she can’t be stopped.”
It was junior Jenna Tederman that was key for the Gators late in the first set. After Lincoln Southeast had rallied to tie the score at 22-22, a service error by the Knights and a Tederman kill put the Gators up 24-22. Melanie Brecka made it 24-23 with a kill for Southeast, but Tederman delivered the game-winner on the next exchange to give North Star the 25-23 win.
North Star was in control the entire second set behind four kills apiece from Tederman, Allick and Kistaitis en route to a 25-15 win. Southeast showed some moxie in the third set, going on an 8-3 run to turn a 15-13 deficit into a 21-18 lead on an ace serve from setter Elizabeth Gifford. Central Florida recruit Nerissa Moravec ended the set with a kill for Southeast as the Knights won 25-23 and pulled within 2-1 in the match.
North Star pounced on the Knights early in the fourth set, taking leads of 8-3 and 16-8 to take control. Southeast managed a late run to get within 22-18, but a kill and block from Allick got North Star to a 24-18 lead and the Gators eventually won the final set 25-19 on a Southeast hitting error.
The victory on senior night, “meant a lot, not just to me, but all the seniors,” Kistaitis said.
It was the final match for both teams before they end their regular seasons in the Heartland Athletic Conference tournament next week.
Lincoln North Star def. Lincoln Southeast 25-23, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19
Lincoln Southeast (18-13) Ranked #7 in Class A
Megan Dobbs – 0 kills, 0 blocks, 1 assist, 0 ace serves.
Nerissa Moravec – 8 kills, 4 blocks, o assists, 0 ace serves.
Melanie Brecka – 11 kills, 3 blocks, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Zoe Prenda – 9 kills, 1 block, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Jocelyn Anderson – 4 kills, 0 blocks, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Elizabeth Gifford – 2 kills, 0 blocks, 34 assists, 3 ace serves.
Khily Gandara – 4 kills, 0 blocks, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Alaetra Long – 1 kill, 0 blocks, 1 assist, 0 ace serves.
Kate Dean – 2 kills, 1 block, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Team Totals – 41 kills, 8 blocks, 36 assists, 3 ace serves.
Lincoln North Star (19-9) Ranked #6 in Class A
Addi Hillman – o kills, 0 blocks, 0 assists, 1 ace serve.
Jenna Tederman – 11 kills, 0 blocks, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Alexa Mustard – 3 kills, 1 block, 47 assists, 0 ace serves.
Ashley Kistaitis – 16 kills, 0 blocks, 1 assist, 1 ace serve.
Sarah Allick – 16 kills, 3 blocks, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Haley Seip – 7 kills, 0 blocks, 0 assists, 0 ace serves.
Erin Williams – 1 kill, 0 blocks, 3 assists, 0 ace serves.
Courtney Faller – 2 kills, 0 blocks, 0 assists, 1 ace serve.
Team Totals – 56 kills, 4 blocks, 50 assists, 3 ace serves.