BAXTER — Collins-Maxwell/Baxter began its season Tuesday night with nine unanswered, first-set points followed by a second-set victory for the Raiders.
CMB’s opponent, Lynnville-Sully, began its season with a road win.
The Hawks defeated the host Raiders in four sets (25-23, 18-25, 25-15, 25-18) thanks in part to an impressive early comeback and an advantage later exploited at the net.
After CMB scored the first nine points of the opening set, Lynnville-Sully slowly but surely worked its way toward a tie at 16-all. Five points later, the Hawks claimed their first lead en route to taking the first set and creating momentum for the rest of the night.
“The girls just said they were nervous, you know, first game of the season and just had to work out some bugs,” Lynnville-Sully head coach Heather James said. “Once we got the momentum going, that really helped them get ahead on the other games.”
Although CMB rebounded and won the second game, Lynnville-Sully’s ability to steal the first game seemed a turning point in the night.
“(Win) that first game, now we’re up 2-0. Completely different aspect of the game,” CMB head coach Scott Ranck said, adding a first-set win would’ve built more excitment for the Raiders and given them a bigger margin for error as the match progressed.
Lynnville-Sully senior Shelby Davis played a key role for the Hawks as they took control of the third set late and then the match with a commanding lead early in the fourth. Davis delivered a number of powerful kills and finished with a team-high 17 kills for the match.
“She put away some really key points for us,” James said.
James also said her team’s play, particularly setting the ball, improved as players adjusted to the lighting in the gym.
Lynnville-Sully took advantage during the fourth set of a shortened CMB front line missing its starting middle hitter, Payge Jurgens, due to an injury.
Sophomore Mikayla Eslinger filled in admirably and to the liking of her head coach for most of the game. Eslinger recorded seven of the Raiders’ eight blocks.
CMB’s rotation left Eslinger absent from the net, though, in the fourth set and placed the shorter Maddy Poage, Mackenzie Schmitz and Abbey Appelgate near the net. The Hawks took advantage and built leads between six and 10 points.
Aside from the height disadvantage, CMB appeared to unravel in the fourth after losing late in the third set.
“I’m still trying to figure out what happened that third and fourth game,” Ranck said. “We kind of had one bad play and kind of got down and then it became two and three and four. We just could never recover from those. It’s just kind of hard to see us play how we did the first two games and then how we did the third and fourth games.”
Lynnville-Sully’s Brenna Lanser had a match-high 20 digs and 14 kills. Riley Rockwell led the Hawks in assists with 19.
For the Raiders, Abbey Appelgate and Bridget Hurley both posted six kills. Junior Toni Spencer recorded 22 digs and Mackenzie Schmitz led the team with 18 assists.
Both teams are in action again Thursday. Lynnville-Sully plays at Sigourney and CMB is at Saydel.