After missing 10 serves in the first two sets, Hastings was more consistent as Tuesday’s match against Grand Island Senior High wore on.
The Tigers missed only one serve and had nine of their 13 ace serves after the second set. That helped the Tigers post a 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-22 victory over the Islanders Tuesday at Grand Island Senior High.
Libero Carly Norlen led the serving with four ace serves, while four more players chipped in two each for Hastings.
Tiger coach Dave Hepner said most of the serves they were missing early on were going into the net.
“That’s giving them some free points and not giving the other team a chance to play the ball,” Hepner said. “I’d rather miss serves long for that reason. Once our serving improved, it gave us a lot of confidence and we were a lot more aggressive with our serves. That’s been our staple.”
The serving came into effect in the third set as Norlen served a 7-0 run where she had three aces for a 13-5 lead. Hastings had seven ace serves in the set, including at set point by Bella Satterly.
“We didn’t give up a point on serve receive in the second set and that’s usually our goal,” GISH coach Bill Root said. “But our serve receive broke down after that and that hurt us.”
Early on, Grand Island took advantage of the Tigers’ mistakes as they had four hitting errors and six serving errors. Emma Hilderbrand had three blocks during a run that gave the Islanders a 19-16 lead, and they maintained that lead. Grace Johnson gave the Islanders the opening set on an ace serve.
But after that, Hastings got a little more comfortable as Brooke Aspen and Haley Schram got going. Aspen had eight of her match-high 17 kills in the second set to help the Tigers get out to an 23-18 lead. The Islanders cut it to one on a net violation but after an exchange of service errors, Schram pounded down a kill to even the match.
As Hastings’ serving took charge in the third, so did Schram. She connected on seven of her 14 kills to help the Tigers cruise.
“Brooke can take over a game, she’s that good,” Hepner said. “When she plays with confidence, she plays lights out and is a smart player. And Haley is our go-to girl even though we don’t go to her enough but she had some big kills for us tonight.”
Hilderbrand tried to keep Grand Island in the match as she had two kills and a block to give the Islanders a 14-9 lead.
But Hastings setter Dacey Sealey, who had 42 assists, would get into the act as well as she had a kill, three blocks and an ace serve as the Tigers took a 22-20 lead.
Hepner said he felt the Tigers’ consistency improved throughout the match, even though there were still some errors.
“When we don’t mistakes, we have a chance to beat anybody,” he said. “We cleaned that area up as the match wore on.”
Hilderband and Anna McCoy each led the Islanders with eight kills, while Ella Beckstrom chipped in seven. Tori Hale had 21 set assists and Grace Johnson led the defense with 12 digs.
Even though the Islanders are 0-5 on the season, Root said he still feels they are getting better every match.
“We’re just inconsistent right now, but I still felt we had more positives than negatives tonight,” Root said. “We just need to be patient with this team. We’ll try to make some adjustments and get after it. Hopefully we’ll learn from it and continue to get better.”
Grand Island will head to the Kearney Invite Saturday.