Packers show progress in season finale loss to Century

Published 9:59 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The Austin volleyball team bridged the gap between the last team that had a season like this as they closed out the regular season in a loss to Rochester Century (17-9 overall) by scores of 25-17, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22 in Packer Gym Tuesday.

Austin (12-14 overall) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first game before fading out and it was tied 16-16 in the final game. The Packers didn’t take home a win, but they did impress Century head coach Nichelle (Grage) Guillame, who was a setter on the last Austin team to win at least 12 games in 2007-2008, when the Packers went 15-14 overall.

“I’m really excited that the program here is doing better. We played them in a tournament in the beginning of the season and to see where they are now, they’ve improved a lot,” Guillame said. “They’re doing way better digging and their hitters are doing a better job at swinging.”

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Austin senior Ava Denzer was pleased to show a former Packer how the program got its momentum back. 

“I think it was awesome (to play in front of Guillame) because we’ve been building and building and this year has been crazy good,” Denzer said. “I think it’s awesome that we showed her that we can fight. I feel very ready to fight against whoever we play (in the playoffs). I think we can compete and hopefully we get more than one playoff game.”

The Packers never got over the hump in the final game, but they did score four straight points to take a 5-4 lead early on. Austin head coach Jeremy Struck liked the fight that his team showed in that game and all of the others.

“This was a really good step for our program,” Struck said. “Nichelle is going to bring a good team every time and to make her call a timeout twice during the match is a good step. They battled a lot and this is a great step.”

While coaching in AHS always brings back memories for Guillame, this year was even more surreal as she now works as the Dean of Students at Ellis Middle School.

“I see a lot of my students on the (Austin) side and it’s kind of bittersweet,” Guillame said. “You want to cheer for your students and see them do well, but I’m also the Century coach and I want to win as well, and I know my team does too.”

Austin’s next goal is to win a playoff match for the first time since 2008. The Packers have a chance to do that as they may wind up in the middle of the Section 1AAA standings. The Section 1AAA tournament begins on Oct. 25.

Denzer thinks a win is possible, especially if the AHS student section is involved.

“Whenever they do the “Let’s Get Rowdy” chant,” Denzer said. “That gets me pumped up the most. It gets us going.”

Austin stats: Quinn Osgood, 11 kills, 2 aces, 1 assist, 23 digs; Isabella Bolster, 9 kills, 1 ace, 1 dig; Ava Denzer, 6 kills, 1 assist, 8 digs, 1 block; Nora Sand, 5 kills, 1 dig; Aggie McKichan, 5 kills, 1 assist, 4 digs, 1 block; Kathryn Crouch, 2 kills, 1 ace, 1 assist, 15 digs; Haleigh Holman 13 assists, 1 ace, 2 digs; Alia Retterath, 20 assists, 5 aces, 1 kill, 13 digs; Kristen Neilsen, 1 assist, 14 digs