Packers use steady experience and youthful energy to beat Lewiston-Altura

Published 10:45 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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The Packer volleyball team has sprinkled in a mix of youth and experience, and the team is learning to lean on each other when things get spotty.

Austin rebounded from a game four scare to beat Lewiston-Altura (2-2 overall) 25-13, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20 in Packer Gym Tuesday.

After leading for the majority of the first two games, Austin (2-3 overall) fell behind 10-5 in the third game and trailed 9-3 in the fourth game before coming back. Ninth grader Quinn Osgood had two aces during a seven-point serving run that put Austin up 14-12 and freshman Nora Sand hammered down a kills to make it 18-14, 23-18 and 24-19.

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Austin head coach Jeremy Struck would’ve liked to have seen the Packers finish off a clean sweep, but he understands there will be bumps in the road as he has been playing two freshmen and sophomore big minutes along with a strong group of seniors.

“It is growing pains. We just need to keep the valleys smaller and we’ve got to get back up,” Struck said. “You get what you get. Sometimes they’re hot (on the court) and sometimes they’re a hot mess of freshmen. It was all good and we finished the night well.”

Sand finished with five kills for Austin and Osgood had five kills and 22 digs. 

“I feel like our positivity really contributes to the team,” Sand said. “We pick up the energy and everyone around just really supports us. It’s so much fun to play with such great older players and great people.”

Austin compiled just five total wins in its 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons combined and the Packers are hopeful that a change in attitude can help the team reach new heights this year and beyond. Senior hitter Kathryn Crouch, who had seven kills and 28 digs, has already seen some of the positive effects, especially when the team turned it around in the fourth game.

“The attitude has changed. Everybody was talking and nobody was down,” Crouch said. “Our communication stayed the whole game, we all hustled and no one let the ball drop. This year feels so much better than last year, because last year we were so down.”

Crouch added that the seniors have done their best to help out their younger teammates this season.

“They’ve had their rough days, but we keep them focused on their jobs and what they need to do,” Crouch said. “They’re always there when we need them.”

Austin stats: Aggie McKichan, 11 kills, 10 digs, 9 blocks; Kathryn Crouch, 7 kills, 28 digs, 3 assists, Quinn Osgood, 5 kills, 22 digs, 1 assist, 3 aces; Nora Sand, 5 kills, 1dig; Isabella Bolster, 4 kills, 2 digs, 2 aces, 6 blocks; Ava Denzer, 4 kills, 4 digs, 2 blocks; Alia Retterath, 3 kills, 17 assists, 9 digs, 2 aces; Haleigh Holman, 13 assists, 6 digs, 1 ace; Kristen Neilsen, 2 assists, 1 ace, 18 digs