Chargers End Season With Loss to Northeast (Neb.) at Nationals

  Aaron Frey
  Friday, November 17, 2017 4:44 PM

Charleston, W.Va.

Missed opportunities spoiled the Carl Sandburg College’s shot at staying alive in the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship as the Chargers were swept by Northeast (Neb.) 28-26, 25-20, 25-19 on Friday afternoon, eliminating Sandburg from the tournament.

The Chargers (25-16) saw their first trip to nationals come to a close after two matches but had several chances to turn momentum against the Hawks (19-15) during their quarterfinal match in the ninth-place bracket. Sandburg had a set point in the opener and leads in the back half of the second and third sets, only to see Northeast rally each time.

“We played a lot better than we did Thursday, but we just had some stretches where things didn’t go our way or we didn’t make key plays at key times,” Chargers coach Todd Winkler said. “Northeast stepped up when they had to, and that was really what it came down to. It was a really tightly played match, but it seemed like they kept coming up with the key points.”

A 5-0 run that included a kill and an ace from Hannah Thompson (Blandinsville, Ill./West Prairie) as well as a block from Jordan Price (Fulton, Ill./Fulton) gave the Chargers a 17-16 lead in the first set. Three straight points gave Sandburg a 24-23 advantage, but the Hawks were able to hold. The Chargers staved off two set points before Northeast took a hard-fought opening set 28-26.

“We still felt good after that first set, but it felt like an uphill battle the rest of the way after not being able to close it out,” Winkler said. “If we win the first set, maybe we don’t feel as much pressure on us and things go a little differently the rest of the way.”

A kill from Josalyn Owens (Lincoln, Ill./Lincoln) provided the Chargers with their largest lead of the second set at 11-7, and Price put down a kill to give Sandburg a 15-12 advantage. The Hawks, though, responded by taking seven of the next eight points to go ahead 19-16. Haley Stevenson (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg) served up an ace to get the Chargers within 22-20, but Northeast took the final three points to go up two sets.

Sandburg led 12-11 in the third before Northeast scored the next four for a lasting lead. Three straight points — an Owens kills, a Lexi Strange (Emden, Ill./Hartsburg-Emden) kill and an Emma Derry (Augusta, Ill./Southeastern) ace — pulled Sandburg to within 20-19, but the Hawks bounced back with a 5-0 run to close out the match.

The match was the last as Chargers for sophomores Strange, Derry, Helena Wyant, Grace Ferguson, Adre Vetter, Camerin Huizenga, Sam Head, Aleksa Ladd, Anna Schierer and Sam Mayberry.

“Our sophomores set a pretty high bar for our program down the road. They helped us learn what it takes to get here, and now we know what it takes to compete here,” Winkler said. “We’ve got a good group of freshmen coming back, and they’ll be hungry to get back and make a run. This was our first time at nationals, but we don’t plan on it being our last.” 

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