Can you dig it? Packer senior hits 1,000 as Austin wins in five

Published 10:39 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The Austin volleyball team bounced back from a big hole, thanks in part, to a big celebration for one of its seniors in the midst of a five-game win over Winona (5-12 overall) by scores of 19-25, 12-25, 25-18, 25-23, 15-12 in Packer Gym Tuesday.

Austin senior Kristen Nielsen recorded her 1,000th dig on a point that saw Austin go up 16-14 in a must-win game four and the match was briefly paused to recognize her.

Nielsen had been tracking where she was at with her digs this season so she wasn’t shocked when the match was stopped to announce that she hit 1,000. Still, she was a bit emotional when her family revealed their ‘1,000 digs’ t-shirts and her teammates mobbed her.

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“I’ve been playing volleyball since kindergarten, and I’ve been aiming for 1,000 digs ever since I was a freshman,” Nielsen said. “As a libero, you have to be able to read the ball, be on your toes and dive for everything.”

Austin head coach Jeremy Struck said that Nielsen’s back row play has been crucial for the team this season.

“Kristen has been a leader on and off the court for us,” Struck said. “She just knows where to be and she’s aggressive in calling for the ball back there.”

Austin (12-12 overall) led just 23-22 in the fourth game, when Isabella Bolster came up with a big kill to make it 24-22.

Winona jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the final game, but Austin pulled within 10-9 on an ace serve by Kathryn Crouch, Quinn Osgood put down a kill to make it 14-12 and Ajiem Agwa spiked down the match winning point.

“They just kept bringing the fight. I told them to be aggressive and defend the center of the court,” Struck said. “We absolutely needed this one.”

Fittingly, it was Nielsen who served the final five points of the night as Austin bounced back from a 12-10 hole.

“We didn’t start off the greatest,” Nielsen said. “I’m so proud of my team for pushing hard.”

Nielsen finished with 41 digs and five aces and Bolster racked up nine kills.

Austin stats: Isabella Bolster, 9 kills, 7 digs, 3 blocks; Quinn Osgood, 8 kills, 2 aces, 4 assists, 15 digs; Aggie McKichan, 7 kills, 6 dis, 4 blocks; Kathryn Crouch, 3 kills, 2 aces, 1 assist, 16 digs; Ava Denzer, 3 kills, 8 digs, 2 blocks; Katara Fischer, 3 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig, 1 block; Ajiem Agwa, 2 kills, 1 dig, 1 block; Alia Retterath, 3 kills, 2 aces, 13 assists, 8 digs; Haleigh Holman, 1 kill, 16 assists, 15 digs; Kristen Neilsen, 1 kill, 5 aces, 2 assists, 41 digs