MURDOCK – Tears of joy appeared on the faces of many Elmwood-Murdock volleyball players during Parents Night festivities on Thursday.
Their faces contained smiles and grins after stopping Sterling on the court later that evening.
Elmwood-Murdock captured a 25-10, 25-14, 20-25, 25-20 triumph over the Jets. The Knights earned the victory in front of a large crowd in their home gym. All team members took part in Parents Night activities prior to the match.
E-M head coach Nichole Justesen said the Knights were eager to make the evening successful. Seniors Sydney Anderson, Vanessa Callaway, Chloe Hosier, Lauren Justesen, Katelyn Vogler and Nicole Wenzel co-wrote a thank-you letter to their parents that was read aloud prior to the match. All six were in the starting lineup and made contributions to the victory.
“Our seniors were great tonight,” Justesen said. “I’ve coached these girls since they were little kids, so it was pretty special seeing them on their senior night tonight. I’ve watched them grow up and become exceptional people, so this was great to see them have fun and do well. They were really wanting to make this a special night, and I think they did that with the way they played.”
Elmwood-Murdock (8-12) dominated the Jets (7-15) in both of the first two games. Brenna Schmidt collected consecutive aces to make it 14-6 in game one, and Paetyn Florell crushed two straight kills to put E-M ahead 18-9. The team won eight of the final nine points to go up in the match.
Hosier and Anderson both produced aces during a 10-2 scoring spree in game two. Aces from Justesen and Wenzel boosted the gap to 18-10, and Schmidt pounded home a kill on game point to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.
Sterling responded with energetic plays in the third game. The team jumped ahead 11-4 with three kills and one ace from Colby Thies. Consecutive kills from Dani Janssen made it 17-10, and Ella Wingert’s kill to the far corner sealed the 25-20 triumph.
Justesen said the Jets took advantage of several opportunities in game three. The team limited the Knights to three kills and one ace during the stanza.
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“One of our issues this year has been getting comfortable when we get ahead by a lot,” Justesen said. “Sterling definitely played a lot better as the night went on, but they got a lot of points from our errors too. We’re still a young team experience-wise, and keeping our focus at all times is something we’re still learning. We’re getting much better at it, but that was something that came up tonight for sure.”
Elmwood-Murdock regained the momentum in game four. A kill from Florell gave the Knights an 11-6 edge, and points from Schmidt and Hosier on consecutive rallies kept the lead at 14-8.
Schmidt sealed the match with her net play in the final stretch. She collected three ace blocks during the last five points. All Knights on the court and sidelines yelled and put their hands in the air after she stuffed Sterling on the final attack.
Schmidt helped Elmwood-Murdock with ten kills, four ace blocks and three aces. Florell made four kills and Justesen posted three kills and one ace. Hosier chipped in one kill, two aces and one ace block.
Wenzel collected two kills and one ace and Anderson carded one ace. Abby Petersen added a pair of aces for the Knights.
Justesen reached a major milestone during the previous week. She achieved her 1,000th career dig as a Knight. She currently has 1,084 digs on her Elmwood-Murdock resume. She made 279 digs as a freshman, 242 as a sophomore and 346 as a junior. She has 217 this season.
Nichole Justesen said she has been pleased with the team’s progress in many categories. She said that bodes well for the remainder of the season.
“I’ve seen lots of improvement, especially with the serve receive part of our game,” Justesen said. “Our serve receive has become one of our strengths, and the girls are making improvements in a lot of other areas too. It’s been fun to watch them get better as the season has gone by.”