Rebels can’t keep momentum in playoff loss to Houston

Published 9:32 pm Monday, October 25, 2021

ADAMS — The No. 16 seeded Southland volleyball team was caught flat-footed in early and it wasn’t able to get back in as the Rebels lost to No. 17 seeded Houston by scores of 24-26, 25-7, 25-19, 25-23 in a Section 1A play-in match Monday.

The Rebels (7-15 overall) trailed 7-1 to start the fourth game, after dropping games two and three, but were able to come back and tie at 23 after a block kill by Bailey Johnson, who finished with 14 kills and 23 digs in her final match with Southland. Houston closed the match out when freshman Emily Botcher put down a kill and Southland allowed a side-out.

“Kudos to the front row for stepping up their block and giving us a chance in that last game. We had a chance at the end and a couple of mental lapses led to the end,” Southland head coach Michelle Nelsen said. “Tonight was all about mental errors. I think we missed a dozen or so serves and that killed us and we were slow in the back row. When we were on, our hitting was on fire and we had great passes.”

Southland was clutch in the first game as it scored the last two points to snap a 24-24 tie. Shannon Kiefer had a hit that made it 25-24 and Chloe Canterbury slammed down the final kill of the game.

Southland lost all of its momentum though, when Houston (5-14 overall) came out and scored the first 10 points of the second game. The Hurricanes also jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the third game.

Nelsen said her team is young and she thinks they will come back stronger next season.

“They just need more time at that level. Half of our team hadn’t played at a varsity level before this season,” Nelsen said. “Our young kids hadn’t had a lot of time out there yet, but the future looks bright. We’ve got a lot of young kids who have shown a lot of potential out there. We’re excited.”

Maddy Bhend and Bria Nelsen each had 15 set assists for Southland and Nora Schmitz had 19 digs. Kiefer, an eighth grader, finished with 10 kills.

While Nelsen wasn’t happy to have the season end on a loss, she was glad that her team was able to enjoy a full season after last year’s COVID-19 shortened season.

“I can’t say enough good things about our fan section. That was a blessing this year,” Nelsen said. “Having a summer schedule, a full season schedule and being able to know that there was a tournament were all big things.”

Southland stats: Maddy Bhend 15 assists; Bailey Johnson 14 kills, 23 digs, 2.5 blocks, 2 aces; Bria Nelsen 15 assists; Nora Schmitz 19 digs, 2 aces; Hattie Wiste 9 digs; Katie Popenhagen 3 kills, 0.5 block; Shannon Kiefer 10 kills, 2 aces; Jessie Hanson 3 kills. 

Houston stats: Calley Colsch 9 digs; Emma Chapel 5 digs; Sydney Torgerson 9 kills, 21 digs; Lilly Carr 21 assists, 17 digs; Priya Kingsley 8 assists, 19 digs, 2 aces; Emily Botcher 13 kills, 29 digs, 4 aces; Jaden Woodard 9 kills, 31 digs, 4 aces.