Saints sweep Huskies to return to regional final
By Kristi Nixon
NASHUA — Threatening to tie this Class 1A regional semifinal match at one set apiece against St. Ansgar, Nashua-Plainfield called timeout within a point at 19-18.
The Saints responded with a five-point run to lead 24-18, essentially a backfire for the Huskies.
“Their timeout helped settle us down,” Saints coach Tyler Johnson said. “So, especially in a tight one like that where any goofy play could make the momentum change in the 20s; it settled us a little bit and since we scored the very first point out of that timeout, put them back in panic mode and helped settle us even more to get it done in that game.”
N-P staved off four set points before Cora Heeter put down one of her 10 kills to set up the third and final set that ended in a sweep, 25-19, 25-22, 25-13.
Then it was all Saints in the final set as they got out to a 9-1 start.
With Heeter and Adri Kruse each putting down 10 kills, Jaci Woods adding eight and Bri Minnis six, the last of which including match point after the Huskies had saved three match points in the final set, it has proven hard to stop the Saint attack.
“We have that strength where we know that Cora can put it down, we know that Bri can put it down, Jaci can put it down and we all know that I can put it down,” Kruse said. “We all have confidence in each other and we all just are like a three-headed monster.
Minnis added, “It’s fun. We feed off of each other’s energy and even when we are down all of our teammates are working to keep up fierce competition.”
It makes the second straight regional final for the Saints.
“I think for the kids it’s great because it is back-to-back years that they are in the regional final,” Johnson said. “I think that’s really exciting. It helps the program massively.”
The reward for the win, which improves the Saints to 19-9 and includes 13 straight victories, is a date with No. 3 Springville (32-4) at Waterloo West High School on Wednesday, Oct. 27 with a shot at going to state on the line.
“It’s something that is really crazy especially since everybody is talking about how we lost so much last year,” Kruse said. “We can prove that we can do that, too. It means a lot because we really want to make it to state because it has been a really long time.”
The Saints had something to prove also, considering they were the only higher seeded team in the state that had to go on the road.
“I think we were all shocked that we were playing here, but we know we could do it as long as we played together and the atmosphere here was incredible,” Minnis said. “Our crowd really showed up for us so that helped us.”
Springville is a lot like the Saints in that the team has multiple offensive weapons: six different players have recorded more than 100 kills, two with more than 200. Unlike St. Ansgar, however, the Orioles have just one setter, and a good one at that. NIa Howard owns 783 of the team’s 941 assists this season.
“They have a setter that is really good, beyond that is really hard to say,” Johnson said. “I haven’t watched any tape yet just because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. It’s going to be a late night tonight.”
This story will be updated in the Oct. 30 print edition of the Enterprise Journal.