February 20, 2012
Red Lions outlast Hamilton in Class D
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Sydney Burritt (12) of Cincinnatus makes a diving hit on a ball as teammates Mallory Cobb (16) and Danielle Wood (14) look on during Saturday’s Section 3 Class D volleyball title match at J-D. Cincy won in five sets.
DeWITT — In a tense situation, Coach Macy Cobb was still able to smile.
Her Cincinnatus Central volleyball team was locked in a tight battle for the Section 3 Class D championship Saturday afternoon at Jamesville-DeWitt. After winning the first two sets 25-11 and 25-20, the top-seeded Red Lions had seen second-seeded Hamilton come back to tie the match, winning the next two 25-20 and 25-17.
With momentum against it, Cobb’s squad came back to win four of the first five points in the fifth and deciding set, inspiring the smile.
“In the sets we lost we were scrambling and not playing our game,” she said. “When we play our game, our offense, no one can stop us. I told the girls before the fifth game to do that and not let Hamilton run things out there. They were doing that, which was the reason for the smile...’See what we were talking about?’ I wouldn’t presume to think it was over, because I know Hamilton has the ability to come back when they’re down like that.”
It wasn’t long afterwards, however, that Cobb, assistant coach Shelby Wright and the Red Lions had even more to smile, as Cincy never trailed and won the fifth set 25-18 to claim the program’s first sectional championship since Mo Seagar led the 1982 team to the Section 4 Class C title, capping a long period of success in that section as well as the Interscholastic Athletic Conference for the Red Lions.
This year’s Cincy squad won the Central Counties League championship in perfect 8-0 fashion and finished 12-1 overall, the lone setback coming at the hands of non-league host Hamilton 25-21, 25-22, 25-19 in the regular-season finale.
“The big difference between that match with them and this one was our serving and passing,” Cobb said. “In fact, their coach (Dennis Roy) said ‘Your serving’ to me after the match was over.
“Last time we made so many serving errors. We just popped stuff up without putting it anywhere. We’ve worked hard on that since then. As I’ve said, that match was a wakeup call for us.”
“We had to talk a lot, communicate, and keep our intensity up,” Red Lions sophomore middle hitter Sydney Burritt said of the fifth set, in which she led the way with five kills and two blocks. “We knew before the set that we could come right back; we were intense and upbeat. Last time we were a little scared and nervous but this time we just brought it and it worked out really well.”
“We knew we had to pick up the intensity and not let down,” said junior hitter Kassidy Kievit, whose three kills were also a key to the fifth-set triumph. “Our schools are pretty much rivals, in this sport and boys’ soccer.”
Hamilton’s boys’ soccer team, in fact, has beaten Cincy four times in the last three years, including the last two Class D championship games.
“IN THIS ONE WE knew what we needed to do, and the guys wanted us to beat them today just as bad as we wanted it,” sophomore setter/outside hitter Mallory Cobb said, having contributed two fifth-set kills and a block. “We knew it was our time and that we had to do it.”
The Emerald Knights, who finished the season at 17-5 overall, had some extra incentive coming in as well, but ended up losing with the sectional Class D crown on the line for the fourth time in as many years, each time to a different opponent.
“The key was serving,” Roy said. “In the fifth set they out-served us, and they were better at it all day long. They were lights out in that fifth set, with five or six aces in that one alone. We made 13 service errors in the match, six in the second set, and you can’t do that at this level and expect to win. We’re not as strong offensively as Cincinnatus but we played pretty good defense, which kept us in it.
“The second game was a debacle and it was because of a mental error on my part, writing two numbers in the wrong places on the lineup card and putting the girls at a disadvantage. The fact that they were able to come back after that was good,” added Roy.
Hamilton scored five of the first six points in the first set before the Red Lions came to life and dominated the rest of the set. Cincy rallied to take a 12-10 lead and then scored 13 of the last 14 points, six while senior outside hitter Lizi Knapp was serving and the final five on serves by Cobb. Burritt and Kievit had two kills and a block apiece in the set.
The Emerald Knights also got off to a good start in the second, scoring the first three points and later leading 9-4 before Roy’s lineup error and the stress it caused the players started taking its toll. The Red Lions rallied to tie it at 9-9, keyed by sophomore outside hitter Kasey Price’s four serving points, three of those on aces. Hamilton then went up 14-9 and didn’t surrender the lead until Cincy went up 17-16. That set was tied at 17, 18, 19 and 20 before the winners scored the final five points, four on serves by Price that included two kills by Kievit. Cobb also had two kills in the set.
IT WAS CINCY’S TURN to get off to a fast start in the third set, the Red Lions with the first three points. Hamilton took the lead for good with six straight points after the set was tied 5-5, senior setter Stephanie Salmon serving for five of those. Sophomore middle hitter Clara Jones had five kills in the set for the Emerald Knights. The teams were deadlocked 10 times in the fourth set, with an 11-3 closing run by Hamilton to decide the game. Junior outside hitter Carrie Vonmuench had three kills while Jones and senior setter Emily Powrie had two kills apiece for the winners.
As noted, Cincy scored four of the first five points in the deciding set and never trailed, but wasn’t able to gain control until a 12-1 run to extend a narrow 9-8 lead. Knapp and Cobb had five-point service runs in that stretch, Burritt with three kills and two blocks in that span.
It was 23-18 Red Lions before Kievit got a kill off a Hamilton serve and then, with sophomore setter/outside hitter Danielle Wood serving, the Emerald Knights put a third hit into the net to end the match as Cincy’s team, coaches and supporters broke into a noisy celebration.
“I was so happy I started crying,” Burritt said in describing her reaction to knowing the Red Lions were the sectional D champions. “This has been our goal since the start of practice (in November).” Kievit, meanwhile, noted that “It was pure excitement, unexplainable.”
Kievit finished the match with 12 kills, three aces, three blocks and 11 digs, while Cobb had 10 kills, three aces, 16 assists and nine digs, Burritt seven kills, four blocks and seven digs and Knapp three aces and 13 digs. In addition, Price had eight aces and Wood 10 assists. Jones had eight kills, five aces and two blocks for Hamilton, which also got five kills and two aces from Vonmuench, five kills from Powrie, two aces and 18 assists from Salmon and five aces and an assist from senior libero Morgan Brooks.
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