SHENANDOAH – The Shenandoah Fillies made a thrilling comeback in the fourth set to force a deciding fifth frame, Tuesday, Oct. 8 against Creston, but the Panthers easily won the final set to earn their first Hawkeye 10 Conference win.
Set scores were 13-25, 25-22, 24-26, 25-21 and 6-15.
Creston scored eight straight points to lead 18-9 in the fourth set and looked ready to win the match, but Shenandoah responded with the next six points with Natalie Gilbert serving two aces during the run. Delanie Voshell earned a pair of key kills to keep the deficit at three and then two Nichole Gilbert aces brought Shenandoah even. A pair of Jasmine Rogers kills put Shenandoah in front 23-21 and the Fillies would add the final two for a 25-21 win in the fourth, ending the set on a 16-3 spurt.
Shenandoah head coach Toni Comstock said serving and blocking led the run.
“We served really aggressive and to certain spots and key players for Creston,” said Comstock, “and it worked to our advantage. We picked up our blocking scheme. Jasmine was a blocking animal (Tuesday). We just have to execute that all five games if we’re going to go five, we can’t just pick a few points.”
While Shenandoah had all the momentum going into the deciding set, the Fillies quickly lost it with Creston using an 8-0 run to extend a 5-3 lead to a 13-3 advantage in cruising to the final set win.
Creston pulled ahead early with a 6-0 run to lead 11-3 in the opening frame and then gradually extended the lead from there.
The second set was a strong one for the Fillies, jumping in front immediately with two Claire Adkins aces to start the set. An ace by Macee Blank and two kills by Jasmine Rogers helped the Fillies take an early 9-3 lead.
Shenandoah would extend the advantage to as many as eight on two occasions, but the Panthers fought back. A 4-0 run brought Creston within 23-22 and Comstock had to take a timeout, but the Fillies responded with the final two points to even the match.
The third set stayed close with neither team leading by more than two until a Creston timeout with Shenandoah up 18-15. Creston scored the next seven out of the timeout though and then held set point at 24-20. Natalie Gilbert and Roxy Denton each had a kill as part of a 4-0 run to even the set at 24, but the Panthers scored the final two to take the 2-1 lead.
“Games two and four were great,” Comstock said after the match. “I praised them in the locker room for that. They showed the want and the fight and I haven’t seen that all season, but then we came out game five and played like we hadn’t all year.”
Rogers led the Fillies with 13 kills and three blocks. Denton, Voshell and Natalie Gilbert added seven kills each. Nichole Gilbert, on a night where she was recognized for breaking the school record for career assists, added 32 to her total.
Natalie Gilbert’s 22 digs led five Fillies in double figures. Nichole added 17, Claire Adkins 16, Sidda Rodewald 13 and Olivia Stogdill 11.
The Fillies fell to 11-14 overall and 0-7 in the Hawkeye 10 Conference. Comstock said her team is playing better together, but still has plenty of room to grow.
“It’s not so much the me factor anymore,” said Comstock. “We’re working together. I’m pleased with how we’re playing, we’re fighting for the ball, but we have to pick it up even further.”
Kelsey Fields led Creston with 14 kills as the Panthers improved to 9-13 overall and 1-7 in the conference.
Several pictures from Tuesday’s match, which included recognizing the program’s four seniors in Adkins, Denton and the Gilbert sisters, can be seen at valleynewstoday.com.
The Fillies are off until, Tuesday, Oct. 15 when they travel to Atlantic for a conference triangular with the Trojans and Red Oak.