Slow start proves costly for Packer volleyball team

Published 10:22pm Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ROCHESTER — The Austin volleyball team started slow and finished strong, but in the end its season came to an end in a Section 1AAA volleyball match in Rochester Century Wednesday.

The No. 6 seeded Panthers (18-10 overall) ended No. 11 Austin’s season in three games by scores of 25-12, 25-9, 32-30.

“We had a very slow start,” Austin head coach Cindy Owen said. “The first two games were really rough and the kids weren’t communicating well. We weren’t doing things we’ve been working on all season.”

Austin (3-24 overall) left everything it had on the floor in the third game when it bounced back from a 22-15 deficit to eventually tie the game. Century led 24-20 in game three and the Packers scored the next five points as Kristine Snyder landed a back line kill to make it 24-23 and Shayley Vesel came up with a kill to make it 25-24 Austin.

The Packers had three chances to win the game, but Century held them off.

“(Game three) was a lot of fun,” said Austin junior Trista Akkerman, who had four kills. “We struggled the first game, but in the last game we started talking and that’s how we normally play. We played to our potential.”

Austin had trouble getting started as it trailed 9-2 to start game one and it fell behind 15-6 early in game two.

Akkerman said it was tough for the team to get focused.

“It was a little bit of everything and we were kind of nervous when we got here,” she said.

Owen is hoping to expand Austin’s JO volleyball program to help improve the varsity team. She also plans on working with the team over the summer.

She said the biggest thing her squad needs to work on is confidence.

“The nicest part about the whole thing is the kids were fun to work with,” Owen said. “The biggest thing they need to learn is to believe in themselves.”

Austin will graduate three seniors in Synder, Rachel Wahlert and Erin Dankert.

“The seniors helped out and they set the base really strong,” Akkerman said. “It’s different, but we’re getting used to it. Next year should be a lot better.”

Austin stats: Trista Akkerman, 4 kills; Mer Gach, 3 kills, 7 digs, 3 ace blocks; Abbi Collins, 3 kills; Shayley Vesel, 9 set assists, 4 assist blocks; Marissa Hart, 6 set assists; Kelsey Sederquest, 13 digs; Rachel Wahlert, 6 points serving

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