Photo by Hunter Tickel /Herald junior mid-hitter Jasper Bailey Lents (2) rises for an offense Thursday. She finished with 10 kills, as one of four double-digit Wildcats. Jasper won a 3-1 victory over Evansville North in the first round of Class 4A Jasper Sectional 16.
Through HUNTER TICKET
JASPER – Jasper flipped the script once, Evansville North retorted, then withdrew.
The Wildcats (20-11) emerged from Thursday’s first round of the Class 4A Sectional 16 with a 3-1 win over the Huskies in a rematch of last year’s semi-finals that went the distance.
Jasper made sure to get the job done in four sets this time around – 25-20, 27-29, 25-18 and 25-20.
“I am delighted that my team and my (teammates) are supporting them,” said senior libero Jayden Pfister. âI think we can win. I’m ready to get a section title. I am really excited. “
In a game with several challenging runs, the Wildcats conceded five straight points to sit on the verge of defeat 24-19 in Game 2.
Then they rode their own flurry with six straights to go up from one. Junior outside hitter Libby Mehringer hit two kills after her slam was dug up by the Huskies.
The left-hander ace paved the way for the next point. She finished with team records of four aces, 27 assists and 14 kills.
“I think every coach dreams of having a left-handed right side,” said third-year coach Jennifer Hohl. âIt’s a lot easier when the ball goes in, instead of going through your body. Libby is a force to be reckoned with whenever she grabs that ball. Sometimes I fear for the opponents on the other side.
The murders that followed came from seniors Izzy Hopf and Kennedy Matheis, his swat grazing the net.
Mehringer’s set against second-year right-side forward Paige Giesler tied the game. After three more ties on more points, a typing error and a relentless ball from the Huskies beat Pfister in the middle of the back row.
Pfister finished with a record 55 digs and had nine assists.
“Jayden is an exceptional player,” said Hohl. âShe throws a lot of balls that people think will hit the ground or chase them away, she’s fast. I think his defense tonight really set the tone for what we wanted to do and how we wanted to handle the situation.
The next game was the crucial tiebreaker.
Jasper ran with a 6-2 advantage on two kills from junior middle hitter Bailey Lents, hits from Mehringer, Matheis and junior ace Paige O’Neil.
Lents, Matheis and sophomore Ava Englert all finished with double-digit wins.
O’Neil distributed 22 assists, the team’s second.
The lead climbed to 16-7. Six successive Norths made it a game, but guns from all areas of the field provided the response Jasper needed to go up 2-1.
Hopf slapped a kill from the right side, Matheis scored a block, Lents made an effort over the net to score, Mehringer pushed a ball from the right side to the front left corner on one point, on the next she hammered a ball, over the net, to the middle of the ground.
âI think something we’re really emphasizing with the girls throughout this season is the level of their intensity and their energy,â Hohl said. âI think we could have (left) (in) the third game after losing that second. But this group did a really good job of holding everyone accountable. “
The Wildcats led seven three times in the final set to secure a rematch with Evansville Reitz at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
The schools met in the section final last year, a 3-0 victory for the Panthers for their inaugural crown.
Jasper holds 38 section titles.
As of 2011, he has won six in a row in 3A. The Cats have moved from class to class and have finished second in four years. The other three losses came against Castle.
âFor now, obviously, we’re going to focus on Reitz,â Hohl said. âOf course, as a coach you have to take the big picture and look to the future. You want the girls to focus on the next game, but of course it’s always like, ‘We’re coming up. in the final, so what are we going to do then. âThey’re hungry for that.