Sarah Ferguson of Niles bumps a ball in the Lady Vikings' non-conference match against visiting Mishawaka. (Daily Star photo/RON HARNER)
Sarah Ferguson of Niles bumps a ball in the Lady Vikings' non-conference match against visiting Mishawaka. (Daily Star photo/RON HARNER)

Archived Story

Niles beats Mishawaka in five sets Monday

Published 9:22am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Niles Daily Star

The Niles varsity volleyball team gave fans their money’s worth on Monday night at Niles High School, hanging on to defeat Mishawaka’s Cavemen in a five-round battle.

Tenacious defense and clutch shots helped the hosts prevail. It wasn’t the best of their performances, according to Coach Linda Martin, but it still was an impressive comeback over a tough northern Indiana school, which has a huge student population advantage over Niles.

The Niles junior varsity had recovered from a first game 25-20 loss to win game two, 25-15, and the tie-breaker, 18-16, in overtime. It seemed that nothing could equal that level of anxiety, but the varsity match proved even more suspenseful.

Largely based on the height and power of front-liners Jordin Ashburn and Maria Tomlinson, Mishawaka won the first set of the night 25-20. Rachel Zeider’s and Devin Roberts’ blocks and kills weren’t enough for the Vikes.

After Zeider had made a towering blocked shot to tie the score at 20 apiece, the Cavemen reeled off five unanswered points. Niles made some critical passing mistakes in that segment. Dropping untouched, Jenna Early’s tip was the final blow for the 25-20 Cavemen win.

The next set might have been called “Love’s Revenge.”

Freshman Ashley Love sparked her teammates with seven spikes and flashing moves all over the court. Niles began with a 5-0 lead on good passing, Brittney Buti’s slicing serves and two of Love’s slams. After Mishawaka scored its first point, Niles ran off another five tallies to one Cavemen point.

Leading 11-2, it looked like a different Viking team, but a block by Dana Levin, a tip by Tomlinson and an ace by Becca Hite spurred the Cavemen back to a 17-13 deficit.
Two big kills by Love and a tip and slam by Zeider helped the Vikes complete a 25-17 equalizer.

Appropriately, it was Love serving as the Cavemen were called for carrying on the final set point.

An early ace by Levin helped the Cavemen to a 5-2 lead, in game three, but a tip to the middle of the floor by Zeider and a block by Michelle Briand helped to right the Viking ship.

An ace by Charissa Spear, plus her dig to set up Roberts’ spike brought the Vikings to an 11-11 deadlock. Sarah Ferguson’s ace and Roberts’ tip propelled the hosts to a 16-13 bulge, but 6-foot freshman Hannah Curtis’ tip and Early’s ace tied it right back up.

Then Niles launched an eight-point streak that the Cavemen couldn’t counter.

Lewis dropped a shot barely in-bounds, blocked Curtis’ slam and had a kill of her own. Love’s two tips and Ferguson’s one-handed dig all led to Love’s cross-court wallop for the clincher in the Vikes’ 25-17 third stanza triumph.

The Cavemen were not ready to call it a night.

Tomlinson’s kill put them ahead 3-2 in game four. Consecutive digs, in a long volley, by Niles’ Lewis, Buti and Lewis again led to a commanding spike by Zeider to force a 5-3 Niles lead.

However, the Cavemen surged back with three kills from Tomlinson, two by Jordin Ashburn and some laser serves by Early to run up a 15-9 advantage. Despite Ferguson’s kill and Roberts’ soaring block, Niles just was not able to regroup.

The visitors had the Vikings on the ropes with a 25-20 win.

The showdown was tightly contested. Rebecca Lewis’ ace was a major Viking inspiration, helping tie the deciding set 3-3. Then Mishawaka became the victim of its own power. Zeider’s bullet off of Lovin and a combined block by Spear and Zeider halted the slam attack by Mishawaka. Several arrant Cavemen spike attempts sailed out of bounds.

Ferguson’s slam and a big stuff by Lewis built a 14-8 Vikings lead. The Cavemen’s last serve flew harmlessly out of the court for a 15-8 Niles clincher.

Relieved by the final outcome, Martin expressed her analysis of the night.

“We just had some passing issues. Our center (Rebecca Lewis) was great! She was all over the floor, making things happen,” she explained. “She just did a fantastic job.”
“Not our best outing,” she continued. “Ashley Allison is one of best passers; she is also one of our strongest hitters. It’s really hard taking her out of the hitting role, but it was a rough night.”

Martin added, “When Sarah Ferguson gets a hold of the ball, she can really put it down.”
Martin looks forward to continued progress from Ferguson, only a junior, as well as the rest of her young players.

Alyse Hoyt’s  JV players made a team effort in downing the Cavemen.
Sarah Smith, Paxton Schaller, Abigail Mckeel, and Joselyn Dlouhy all had two aces.

McKeel had six kills, Coutney Shirrell added five and Dhlohy four. Hannah Porterfield contributed 17 assists and Schaller had 10 digs.

Niles statistical leaders

Ashley Love 17, Rachel Zeider 9, Sarah Ferguson 6
Charissa Spear 23, Brittney Buti 16, Ashley Allison 15
Spear 2, Love 1
Zeider 4, Spear 2
Rebecca Lewis 27

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