CLINTON – The Prince of Peace volleyball team won their second consecutive Tri-Rivers Conference game on Thursday night at the Joe O’ Donnell Sports Center, putting away Calamus-Wheatland in four sets.
The Irish won 25-11, 25-18, 20-25, 25-16.
After dropping their first set of the night, the Irish huddled around head coach Stacie Kenneavy before heading into the fourth set. After dominating the first half of the game, they knew what needed to be done to close it out.
“I said basically let’s forget that last one,” Kenneavy said. “Let’s think about how much fun we had in the first one and stop pushing the ball, be aggressive.”
In the fourth set with Prince of Peace leading the match 2-1, the Warriors and the Irish had battled back and forth with no one pulling ahead.
With Prince of Peace leading by just one, junior Anabel Blount tracked a close net ball and tipped it away from the Warrior defense for a kill.
“In that fourth game, Anabel picked everybody up,” Kenneavy said. “Not to take away from anyone else’s good games tonight, she kind of put people on her shoulders and said let’s go.”
Junior Grace Dehner then went to the line and served an ace. After the Irish notched another point, Dehner served two more aces to give them a solid 22-15 lead.
Sarah Moeller put away a ball from the right side and then Blount sent a role shot into the middle that fell. An ace, one of the twelve the Irish recorded on Thursday, was match point to give them the win.
The Irish started the game in dominant fashion. They came out and jumped to an 11-4 lead immediately, running quick sets at all three spots off setter Isabel Hansen and playing untouchable defense.
“Passing and base defense is something we’ve been trying to work on a lot,” Kenneavy said. “We still have a long way to go. But the energy was good and they could see when they were having those good passes how much fun it was to run a fast offense tonight.”
Junior Paige Kuehl dominated from the outside in Set 1, putting away balls with thundering swings. She also made diving plays in the back row, adding to the impressive and scrappy defensive effort.
“Paige had the best set that I’ve ever seen out of her,” Kenneavy said. “She was super confident, lot of snap of the ball and all over the place. Her efficiency tonight was the highest she’s had all season.”
Cal-Wheat cleaned up their efforts in the second set, keeping it tied at 10-10. That’s when the Irish started getting their offense rolling again with quick sets to the middle and slides back to the right side, throwing the Warriors out of system. They outscored them 15-8 to close it out.
“I feel like tonight they had the confidence to try all the stuff we’ve been talking about,” Kenneavy said. “Before they kind of thought, well we just do this is practice. This is what we do in a game, and it looked nice.”
The Irish dropped energy a bit in the third set. A string of errors and some blocked attacks had them pushing and tipping balls over the net.
“There was definitely a change in energy,” Kenneavy said.
Anabel Blount led in kills with 13, but was closely followed. Lilly Isenhour put away 12 on the night, and Paige Kuehl an additional 7.
Blount also led the back row with 21 digs through the four sets. Isabel Hansen, who had 29 assists on the night, dug up another 16 ball. Hansen and Blount also serve four aces a piece, with Grace Dehner serving another three in crucial moments in Set 4.
The Irish (11-12) take to the courts in Goose Lake this weekend for the Northeast Invitational, before returning to conference play on Monday with their final home game. They welcome Cedar Valley Christian to Clinton for that contest.