Smoky Valley’s volleyball team was pushed by Kingman and Nickerson. But the Vikings’ hitters swung the momentum to sweep Tuesday’s Central Kansas League triangular on Pink Night that honored cancer survivors and those battling cancer.
The Vikings (15-11, 3-4 CKL) outlasted Kingman 26-24, 25-19 and Nickerson 25-22, 25-13 to stay hot after their runner-up finish to Cheney at the Burrton Tournament. Cheney downed the Vikings 25-22, 25-21 in the Burrton championship match.
Smoky Valley hitters Megan Forsberg, Emily Deterding and Eryn Stockman led the Vikings’ attack at the net that beat Kingman and Nickerson. Kellee Carson and Carrie Albers helped the hitters with solid sets.
Nickerson executed superbly in the opening game, building a 14-9 lead. But winners by Stockman and Forsberg swung the momentum. Back-to-back winners by Morgan Erickson and Ashley Schweizer gave the Panthers a 22-21 lead. Forsberg hit back-to-back winners and Deterding made a defensive save for a 24-22 lead before Forsberg’s winner ended it.
“We played five matches Saturday and it was difficult to bring that same energy tonight,” said Smoky Valley coach Doug Schneider. “We came out sluggish against Nickerson and got down early, but I was pleased how we finished that game. We played extremely well in the second game.”
Albers’ accurate serving sparked an 11-1 run for a 19-8 lead and several winners by Deterding closed the Nickerson match 25-12.
Kingman’s hard-hitting tandem of Sada Smith and Lauren Moon matched the Vikings’ firepower point-for-point in game one. Back-to-back service points by Madeleine Roe gave Kingman a 24-24 tie. But the Vikings won the game 26-24 on winners by Stockman and Albers.
The script was similar in game two when Stockman, Forsberg and Deterding took turns hitting winners. The trio each contributed winners for a 25-19 game two victory.
“We did some good things tonight,” Schneider said. “In our league, any team can beat you. Both Nickerson and Kingman played scrappy and battled. We had to work hard for points.
“Sometimes you have to win some matches playing ugly and we were able to step up at times,” he said. “We finished the first game against Kingman. We have some big hitters and they all came through when we needed them.”
The Vikings play Central Plains and Ellsworth Thursday at Claflin.
Nickerson (5-22, 1-6 CKL) defeated Kingman 25-14, 22-25, 25-18 in the third match of the night. The Panthers travel to the competitive McPherson Tournament Saturday.
Nickerson’s Morgan Erickson and Marissa Stewart sparked the Panthers’ early first-game success. Aubrea Beasley and Payten Smith hit winners for a 25-14 opening game.
“We’re working on being the aggressor rather than give the other team free balls to play,” said Nickerson coach Deedra Woodbury. “Morgan Erickson started to come alive in the Kingman Tournament when she played her best volleyball and she’s building on that.”
Kingman responded behind the play of Sada Smith, Moon and Madison Bangert for a 25-22 second game victory. The Eagles got their hitting attack rolling.
The Panthers’ defense and serve reception sharpened in the third game. Winners by Erickson and Payten Smith helped the Panthers pull away. Kingman’s Sada Smith and Roe led the Eagles. But Erickson’s final winner ended the match.
“We focused on how we’re playing and how we’re executing the parts of the game,” Woodbury said. “We’re working on anticipating where the ball is going to be played. We’ve worked really hard on our aggressive serving. That’s a key to our offense. If we get an aggressive serve, you’re playing an aggressive style.”
Woodbury said an energetic student crowd helped motivate her team to play their best volleyball.“The girls asked for the crowd to help them out and that helped get them going,” Woodbury said.
Kingman dropped to 6-26 overall and 0-7 in CKL play. The Eagles play Oct. 9 at Lindsborg against Haven and Lyons.