Lady Cards win thriller over Wildcats
RANDOLPH — It was a big week for the Randolph Lady Cardinals in more ways than one.
First, they defeated Hartington/Newcastle 3-2 (25-18, 16-25, 25-23, 15-25, 20-18) in another barnburner between the two teams this season.
Then, head coach Rob Engel found out a handful of players had to once again enter quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the second time this campaign.
To say the Lady Cardinals (12-8) had a lot on their plate in an understatement.
Engel was pleased with the win over the improving Lady Wildcats.
“We knew that they would be much improved since playing them early in the season when we were able to pick up a win and they were,” Engel said. “They have a senior, Kayden Jueden that is a really great player, and she really does a lot for them, but we were able to use our balanced attack and come out on top,” he said.
The marathon match looked like it would get away from the lady Cards in the fifth set.
“The fifth set started out rough for us and using our last timeout down 11-5 things didn’t look good, but we were able to get a point out of the timeout and then Keely (Pinkelman) went on a great serving run to get the lead at 12-11,” Coach Engel said.
The two teams then traded points, but RHS missed a couple of chances on match point before finally coming out on top.
Bailey Beal had 15 kills, Jaiden Taylor added nine kills, Natalie Munter drilled eight kills and Pinkelman contributed seven kills to spark Randolph who overcame 21 kills by Jueden and 12 by Erin Folkers.
The team plays really well at times, but not as often as they need to, Coach Engel said.
“We are still looking for consistency, we can be really good, and really bad even within the same match,” he said. “The girls have shown some great mental toughness and teamwork to pull out some close wins, something we knew we needed to improve upon going into the season.”
Randolph played Wynot and Plainview Tuesday and then starts play at the Pierce County Tournament Thursday.
“We will be playing Plainview twice in three days, so that’s always tough, and then if we can get past them, we will likely be looking at a matchup with class C1 Pierce,” Engel said about the tournament. “They are really athletic, and we will have to be at our best that night.”
The Lady Cardinals will have to do without a number of juniors who have been put in quarantine including DS Ariel Fye and MB Emma Munter.
“Ariel has added some depth to our lineup and is a really good passer who strengthens our serve receive and digs the ball,” Engel said. “Emma has made some big improvements this year and her hitting has really come along, and she has a good block too. She has stepped in and played some big points this year and did a great job playing in the Elkhorn Valley tournament when we were short a player. Both of these girls will be missed in quarantine but will be back soon hopefully.”
Fye said the reason why she and others are in quarantine is because a fellow student came to school and wasn’t feeling well while she and others sat closer than six feet away, without masks and for longer than 15 minutes.
She and a lot of members of the junior class were quarantined Thursday. She said she will be in quarantine until Oct. 22 unless the student in question takes the test and it comes back negative, and then her return could be sooner.
“I won’t have to get tested unless I show symptoms. It does stink a lot and it’s very hard since I’ve had to miss Homecoming and the dance. I missed two weeks of practice and districts are the week I come back,” she said.
Friends and teammates will help her get through it, though.
“I have some really good friends that help me out a lot and my team has done a lot for me. I have had a lot text me and say ‘hey, they miss you.’ It’s hard but I am quarantined with four other girls in my class so we can talk and help each other through this,” she said.
Fye admits she does a lot of Netflix watching and hanging out with the dog while doing homework to pass the time. She will also try to work out some with her dad to keep her volleyball game fresh.
Munter admits its hard to be away from the team as it continues to play well and now she and the others have to step aside and remove that quality depth from the lineup.
“We have been practicing and working so hard and now we can’t do anything for two weeks,” said Munter, who was also quarantined for a second time. “The team is still working hard, but it’s difficult not being able to be there. We want to, but we can’t, because we are stuck at home.
“One good thing about our team is that we have so many girls with so much talent that if someone is gone someone can step in and do what they need to do. It’s very frustrating because I couldn’t even go to the first day of school and now, I am missing Homecoming. It’s crazy because you never know when it’s going to happen: It just does.”
Munter added she will “definitely” tell her kids about these days.
Despite the quarantines, Randolph still entertains a potential strong playoff run.
“We have likely locked down the No. 2 seed in our conference tournament and we are sitting 13th in Class D2 in power points,” Engel said. “So, we need a strong finish to stay there, or hopefully move up.”
HNS 18 25 23 25 18
Randolph 25 16 25 15 20
KILLS Randolph - Bailey Beal, 15; Jaiden Taylor, 9; Natalie Munter, 8; Keely Pinkelman, 7; Abby Schmit, 2; Emmalee Harder, 2; Erin Engel, 1. HNS - Kayden Jueden, 21; Erin Folkers, 12; Keanna Korth, 6; Lauren Howell, 4; Keeley Wiepen, 3; Alivia Morten, 1.
ACE SERVES Randolph - Keely Pinkelman, 2; Erin Engel, 1; Natalie Munter, 1; Gracie Eledge, 1. HNS - Olivia Grutsch, 6; Kayden Jueden, 4; Keeley Wiepen, 2; Alivia Morten, 1; Mani Lange, 1; Kennadi Peitz, 1.
BLOCKS Randolph - Bailey Beal, 3; Jaiden Taylor, 2. HNS - Keanna Korth, 2; Kayden Jueden, 2; Keeley Wiepen, 1.
DIGS Randolph - Ariel Fye, 10; Keely Pinkelman, 10; Gracie Eldge, 8; Jaiden Taylor, 5; Natalie Munter, 3; Erin Engel, 2; Abby Schmit, 1. HNS - Olivia Grutsch, 27; Kayden Jueden, 25; Alivia Morten, 15; Kennadi Peitz, 8; Erin Folkers, 8; Lauren Howell, 7; Mani Lange, 6; Keeley Wiepen, 4; Keanna Korth, 3; Makenna Clarkson, 1.
SET ASSISTS Randolph - Erin Engel, 20; Abby Schmit, 19; Emmalee Harder, 1; Keely Pinkelman, 1. HNS - Alivia Morten, 39; Lauren Howell, 4.
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