• 46°

Packers can’t keep up with Huskies

The Austin volleyball team couldn’t keep hold of an early push as it lost to Owatonna by scores of 25-21, 25-12, 25-20 in Packer Gym Tuesday.

The Packers (0-3 overall, 0-3 Big Nine) led the first game 19-16 after a tip kill by Kennedy Bell, but the Huskies answered by scoring nine of the last 11 points.

The Huskies (2-1 overall, 2-1 Big Nine) scored two of the game’s last five points of the first game on missed serves by the Packers.

Joy Deng fired up the Packers with a block kill to bring Austin with 10-7 in the final game and the Packers found a second wind to hang around. Chloe Jenkins connected on an ace serve to bring Austin within 19-17 and Isabel Stark had a block kill to keep Austin within 23-20. The Huskies scored the final two points on a missed Austin serve and a side out.

“We need to get that inner beast and that killer instinct to come out to try and win the game in those tough situations,” Austin interim coach Jaime Mauseth said. “One of our goals this year is to communicate and when we’re up we are communicating, but when we’re down we get kind of quiet. We really have to figure out how to work together as a team.”

The Packers have very little varsity experience on this year’s team and they had a short time to prepare for this season. Seniors Madisyn Retterath, who had 13 digs Tuesday, and Lexi Stich, who had three kills, have both taken on big leadership roles.

“It’s such a big change from last year because we graduated pretty much everybody. We’re learning where we are on the court and we’re starting to be confident and be more of a team,” Stich said. “It’s a very different aspect, because the older girls last year were so inspiring to all of us. Madi and I have realized that we’re the older girls now and we have to inspire.”

Stich and the Packers were are their best for parts of the first and third game, but they struggled to get any push in the second game.

“In the second one we stopped talking and we stopped working as a team,” Stich said. “We wanted to play by ourselves and we can’t do that.”

Mauseth said the leadership of Retterath and Stich will be crucial for the Packers this season.

“I rely on them a lot,” Mauseth said. “I told those seniors that I’m going to put some responsibility on their shoulders and they are stepping up for the team. I feel like they’re good role models and they’re figuring out. This season is kind of crazy with how fast everything is going and we have young team, but I think the girls are figuring out how to work together.”

Austin stats: Kennedy Bell, 5 kills; Ava 5 kills; Lexi 3 kills, 2 ace serves; Isabel, 2 kills, 2 ace blcoks; Briella Wempner, 8 set assits; Chloe, 6 set assists, 1 ace serve; Madi, 13 digs, 1 ace serve