College volleyball: Good moments, tough result

Aaron Hagen Daily Globe WORTHINGTON -- Rebecca Kazemba said it was the best game the Minnesota West volleyball team has played all season. But the Lady Jays came up just short to Western Wisconsin Technical College in a thrilling 3-2 result Wedne...

JESSE TRELSTAD/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West’s Becca Linder (6) bumps the ball to teammate Dani Hermeling (1) Wednesday night.

Aaron Hagen
Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON - Rebecca Kazemba said it was the best game the Minnesota West volleyball team has played all season.
But the Lady Jays came up just short to Western Wisconsin Technical College in a thrilling 3-2 result Wednesday night.
“It felt better than every other game we’ve played. We actually connected and it was good; it was fun,” said Kazemba, a first-year outside hitter for Minnesota West. “That was the best we’ve played. We went to five games. I wasn’t disappointed at all.”
Game scores were 13-25, 27-25, 25-14, 14-25 and 15-11.
“It’s a really tough one, but we have another chance, we’ll see them again this season,” MW head coach Marie Johnson said. “I don’t want anyone to hang their heads at all. I told the players that, this is definitely a tough loss to swallow, but we’re going to move forward. It’s a great learning experience. It’s a tough learning experience, but it’s a great learning experience that if we want to win, we always have to play like we want to win, not that we’re afraid to lose.”
Sophomore middle Bailey Tish said the difference between a win and a loss was minimal.
“We worked hard,” Tish said. “At the end, I feel there are certain things that if we would have done just that much better and a few little nit-picky things, we could have beaten them. Coach said we missed 11 serves, so that would have gotten us a lot more points. We have to make sure we are on our toes and moving our feet instead of just diving and stretching right away for the balls. We have to work on putting our kills down and snapping our wrists especially.”
The combination of Kazemba, Tish and Becca Linder accounted for 48 kills in Wednesday’s match.
“When they were on and when they were swinging away, the ball was falling,” Johnson said. “That was definitely something we were encouraging, just swing away and hit hard. Western Tech had great defensive coverage, but we were hitting really hard tonight.”
Kazemba led the team with 17 kills.
“I got set a lot,” she said. “Dani (Hermeling) had good sets and we had really good passes. The middles didn’t get a lot of sets because of that and I’m outside, so I got a lot of them.”
She also finished with a team-best 33 digs.
“She was all over the court tonight,” Johnson said of Kazemba. “She was filling in that hole because they were trying to tip around our blocks and over us, and Rebecca was swooping in and picking up that defensive area. She was aggressive, not only when she was in the front row, but also calling for some of those back-row tips.”
Tish finished with 16 kills, while Linder had 15 kills, three aces and two blocks. Hermeling tallied 42 set assists and 16 digs.
The Lady Jays came out and had little trouble in the first game, using an 11-0 run for a 12-point victory.
“I think we came out and we had a lot of great momentum at the very beginning,” Johnson said. “The first set kind of seemed like it was smooth sailing. There weren’t many errors, we played together as a team and picked each other up. You could feel enthusiasm in the gym.”
The second game was tight throughout, and MW led 24-22 late. However, the Cavaliers finished on a 5-1 run to win the second set.
“I think No. 2, we let up,” Johnson said. “Western Tech came back wanting it. They absolutely wanted to take No. 2 from us and that’s what happened. It was back and forth. We almost got it back and then at the very end, Western Tech pulled ahead. I think that was a momentum stopped for a little bit. Unfortunately, when we went into set No. 3, we carried that over.”
The third game was all Western Tech. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 7-1 lead and never trailed in an 11-point win.
“I think we beat ourselves up about the second game,” Tish said. “We came out and we won the first one and we were like, ‘OK, this is good, we can do it again.’ I think we were too relaxed thinking that we could just kill them again. So then we let our guard down a little bit. After losing the second game, we got down on ourselves.”
In a must-win fourth game, the Lady Jays led by four, 18-14. But those were the last points Western Tech would score as a kill by Tish put the finishing touches on a 25-14 MW victory.
“I feel like we all picked up our energy and talked more,” Tish said. “When we get talking more, you can definitely tell we work a lot better and communication is really big for us.”
The fifth game was close midway through as a kill by Linder tied the game at 9-all. WT took an 11-10 lead and scored four of the next five points to take the game and the match, 15-11.
“In Set 5, I told the ladies in the locker room, we played like we didn’t want to lose,” Johnson said. “Instead of being aggressive and being on the attack, we were playing like, ‘let’s not lose this one.’ I always want us to play like we want to win it, not to hold back, not to second guess and things like that.”
MW has a week off before being back in action next Wednesday.
“We know we can play better,” Kazemba said. “We know we can play with teams. We know there’s a couple games we can play with them. We play Riverland coming up and Anoka eventually, we know we can play with them.”

JESSE TRELSTAD/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West’s Rebecca Kazemba (9) calls the Western Wisconsin ball out at Wednesday night’s volleyball match in Worthington.

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