GEORGE — Jessica Hilbrands, Sarah Kruse, and Addy Wiertzema did not play like girls who needed someone to pound on their chest in game four of the Oct. 4 Siouxland Conference match between Central Lyon and George-Little Rock.
Some players may have played in a nervous manner, yet the George-Little Rock trio looked relaxed, and very determined in the final and deciding game of the match that went to the host Mustangs 18-25, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-22. It was George-Little Rock that might have suffered heart failure in game one, after tying the match at 14-14. The guest Lions closed out the first game with an 11-4 run for its only win of the evening.
“Letting game one go was tough. But, I think it gave us drive and the momentum to make sure we finished out the next games. We lost our composure a bit in the first game, and let down a little at the end, but we fixed it and it really made a difference,” said George-Little Rock coach Jenna Noble.
Repeated ties in game two, led to a tie as late as 23-23, before George-Little Rock was able to finish off Central Lyon.
It was Central Lyon in game three that rallied from an early deficit to take its first lead at 7-6. Moments later back-to-back ace serves by the Lions’ Lexi Ackerman gave Central Lyon a 12-9 lead. Once again a swing in momentum took place with George-Little Rock regaining the lead at 19-18 and finished off the game with a 6-1 run and 2-1 advantage in games.
“In game two we found our ‘big moment, big team’ emotion. We wanted to focus on being that big team that gets those big moments at the right time,” said Noble. “We did that definitely in game two and game four. We did a better job of cutting off Central Lyon’s runs early, and forcing ours to last longer. I do feel the momentum carried over to the fourth game, and we just finished, it was great to see and I was really proud of the girls.”
On a special night, parents’ night, Hilbrands was a force at the net, executing 13 kills. Sarah Kruse backed up Hilbrands’ performance with nine kills and Shannon Klaassen chipped in with eight. But, it was Wiertzema’s serving at the end of game four that ended it with an ace to put away Central Lyon.
“Our girls were ready to go right away and played well. As the games progressed, we slowly began to struggle more with closing the block and digging the ball up,” said Central Lyon coach Jamie Helmers. “George-Little Rock had some powerful hitters that we struggled adjusting to. The third and fourth games we struggled with passing the ball, if you can’t pass you can’t play.”
George-Little Rock finished the match with a 90 percent serving percentage, safely putting 82-of-91 serves in play. Hilbrands finished the match 13-of-13, while Wiertzema was 6-of-6, none bigger than the ace to conclude things. Sarah Kruse, Keeley Kruse and Abby Eben each had two ace serves.
Leaders for Central Lyon were Kelsey Ackerman with a match-best 16 kills and Sarah Halse with seven kills. Lexi Ackerman lofted 35 assists and posted three solo blocks in the loss.
Central Lyon finished the evening with Halse serving 13-of-13 with an ace and Martina Peterson going 8-of-8 behind the service line.
“We did many great things. The girls were aggressive at the net, big swings, and Lexi did a nice job of mixing up our plays,” said Helmers. “But, we were able to see some things we need to keep working on.”
The loss by Central Lyon to George-Little Rock is the third in four meetings this season and leaves the Lions with a 12-11 overall match record and 3-2 league record.
George-Little Rock extends their win streak to two consecutive matches, improving their overall match record to 12-12 and 3-3 in the Siouxland Conference.
George-Little Rock 3, Central Lyon 1
Central Lyon 25 23 20 22
George-Little Rock 18 25 25 25
Kills: Central Lyon – Kelsey Ackerman 16, Sarah Halse 7; George-Little Rock – Jessica Hilbrands 13, Sarah Kruse 9, Shannon Klaassen 8. Digs: Central Lyon – Coryn Van Beek 4, Morgan Herda 4, Lexi Ackerman 4; George-Little Rock – Sarah Kruse 9, Abby Eben 8. Assists: Central Lyon – Lexi Ackerman 35; George-Little Rock – not provided. Blocks: Central Lyon – Lexi Ackerman (3 BS); George-Little Rock – Taylor Carstensen (2 BS, 2 BA), Hilbrands (4 BA), Carly Klaassen (3 BA), Sarah Kruse (2 BS, 1 BA). Serving: Central Lyon – Halse 13-13 / 1 ace, Martina Peterson 8-8; George-Little Rock – Hilbrands 13-13, Addy Wiertzema 6-6 / 1 ace, Eben 16-17 / 2 aces, Sarah Kruse 11-14 / 2 aces, Keeley Kruse 9-12 / 2 aces.