Saints down North Butler in road volleyball

By Kristi Nixon

GREENE — St. Ansgar turned around a first set deficit behind the serving of Emma Hicken and then found the momentum it needed to serve up a 3-0 sweep of North Butler at Greene on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Hicken took over serving in the opening set with the Saints trailing 14-13, putting down two aces for the lead and the visitors never looked back.

“Serving has always been a strong suit for me ever since I was in middle school and elementary,” Hicken said, “but we’ve really focused in on serving these past couple of weeks because we know that’s how we are going to kind of take a step up against more competitive teams with our serving game.

“All of our short servers were hitting their spots really nicely so that helped as well. It’s really hard to hit those spots, but everyone hit those well tonight and that helped us.”

Hicken finished the night 20-of-20 from the service line, 12-of-12 in that opening set with both of her aces.

Coach Tyler Johnson said that serving was key.

“Short serves were dropping in,” Johnson said, “They weren’t ready for that. And they were having a hard time passing so it was forcing them out of system. And then we had some kids come in and serve long and that threw them for a loop. They yo-yo’ed with that.”

And, when North Butler was able to handle the Saints serve, the blocking came up big. Adri Kruse accounted for three of the team’s eight blocks against the Bearcats.

“Our blocks set up really well in terms of, like, not trying to watch the ball and watching the player instead,” Johnson said, “and then they did a better job of following their hitter and being set up in the right spot, so it was hard for them to find a spot to hit around.”

Hicken added, “Adri is great at the net. She’s super-versatile and can get up there and shut them down a lot of the times. When Madison is up there with her they are kind of hard to stop.”

It was all-around balance attacking with five different hitters accounting for at least four kills, led by eight for Jaci Woods. Kruse and Cora Heeter added seven and Bri Minnis scored six more.

St. Ansgar improved to 3-6 overall, 2-1 in the Top of Iowa East.

“Our non-conference schedule, we knew was going to be hard,” Johnson said. “We knew we were going to use it to prepare us for the push later on in the season, I’m hoping we’re using that to work itself through a bit.”


St. Ansgar’s Bri Minnis goes up for a kill around the North Butler block this week. The Saints improved to 2-1 in the Top of Iowa East. EJ Photo/Kristi Nixon

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