The Lennox High School Oriole volleyball earned a spot in the SoDak 16 after defeating Tea Area in the opening round of Region 4A play last Tuesday and defeating Canton in the second round on Thursday, Nov. 2.
In the SoDak 16, Lennox was scheduled to face off against Groton in Watertown on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Deadlines prohibit the outcome of the game being published in this week’s paper. The winner will advance to the 2023 State A Tournament. Watch next week’s paper for complete coverage. The last time Lennox reached the State Tournament was 1989.
In the Orioles 3-1 win over Tea Area (25-14, 25-16, 21-25, 25-22), Lennox started out on the right foot with some amazing serve receive passing.
“I think it was the first match of the season where all of our primary passers passed at a 2.0 (out of 3.0) or higher,” said LHS head coach Vanessa Gabel. “This allowed our setters to really work the ball around and they ended up with a balanced attack.”
Andie Peters lead the way with a pass rating of 2.32. Also for the Orioles, Lilly Meyers had 18 set assists and Ella Grengs finished with 17. Dani Highum led the team in kills with 12 in the game, followed closely by Grengs with 11.
“Our serving was fantastic, having six players contributing two aces or more,” said Gabel.
Leading the serving charge was Highum with five aces and Addison Martz, Peters and Meyer all with three aces. Mallorie Bittner and Martz each put down three blocks for points to start the defense off.
Peters and Ashlee Sweeter took care of the back row with18 digs and 13 digs respectively.
After defeating Tea Area, the Titans advance to the second round where they faced off against top-ranked Canton.
“The C-Hawks gym was rocking on Thursday night,” said Gabel. “The stands were packed with adults and students from both schools and it was loud.”
Oriole fans had a reason to be loud as Lennox defeated Canton 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 25-16).
“This was our first match to have Carli Kuyper back after a bad ankle sprain at the DAK XII tournament. We knew that we had the advantage over Canton because they had beat us the week before but we were missing two starters (Carli and Libby Kranz due to injuries),” said Gabel. “We knew we had more to offer than they had seen from us regardless to the home court advantage.”
The match started out with the Lennox playing strong.
“We took set one as we expected we would by catching them off guard with our strong attack. In set two, things settled down and both squads were more evenly matched,” said Gabel. “We had another amazing night of serve receive with all primary passers passing above a 2.0 and led by Ashlee [Sweeter] with a 2.33.”
Canton attackers started putting the sets down more consistently against Lennox’s defense but the Orioles had an answer.
“We sent in freshmen, Olivia Niederbaumer, to put up a tall block against Canton’s top hitter on the outside, Macy Plucker. Olivia made an immediate impact which continued to be a problem for Plucker into the third and fourth sets,” said Gabel. Niederbaumer ended up leading the team in blocks for points with six. Kuyper added four blocks.
Canton took a tight set two and Lennox answered by taking a tough set four. In the fifth set, Lennox really turned on the gas, taking charge early in the set and never looked back. The win was cemented with an ace from Meyer.
In the game, Highum led in kills with 15. She also had 11 digs and two blocks. Grengs finished with seven kills, 18 set assists and ten digs. Meyer had 12 set assists and four aces. Martz finished with six kills and four blocks. Kranz had three aces and five kills. Peters provided 15 digs and Sweeter nine.