WISNER — Senior Kayden Jueden did everything she could Saturday to lift her team to another upset victory.
She led her team to a three-set sweep of Cedar Catholic Tuesday in the SubDistrict title game. She tried her darndest to repeat that feat Saturday in the District title game.
The Hartington-Newcastle stand-out’s efforts were simply not good enough, though, as her team fell in three sets to Fremont Bergan in Saturday’s D1-3 District final.
Jueden led the squad with 14 kills, and 24 digs.
HNS Coach Leigh Haselhorst said Jueden is a player other team’s always try to neutralize.
“She is really special. She’s been a key part of this team for four years,” Haselhorst said.
The Lady Knights established the tempo right from the start, capitalizing on all phases of their game to build a quick 7-0 lead before Coach Haselhorst called a timeout to regroup.
Jueden then broke the scoring drought with a big kill right down the heart of the Bergan defense. Keanna Korth followed that up with a block and Bergan committed a hitting error to make it 8-3.
A pair of HNS hitting errors enabled the Lady Knights to extend their lead to 10-3 before Jueden again came up big with a kill. The Lady Cats were never able to climb into contention in the first set as Bergan went on to earn the 25-14 win.
The Purple Pride started the second set off much better trading points with the Green Wave in the early going. Bergan’s strong passing and pinpoint hitting again helped them to pull away. A Jueden kill allowed the Lady Cats to pull within one point, 9-8, but Fremont Bergan pulled away after that.
The Lady Cats rallied late in the set to pull within three — 21-18 — on an Erin Folkers kill, but Bergan regained control to put together a 4-0 run and earn the 25-18 win.
The two teams started off evenly in the third set as HNS took its first lead of the entire day on a Bergan service error to give the Lady Cats a 4-3 advantage.
Kayden Jueden then slammed a kill over the net and Olivia Grutsch nailed an ace serve to give HNS a 6-3 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Lady Knights to regroup, though, as they took advantage of a hole in the Hartington defense to tie the score at 8-8..
The teams then traded the lead back and forth until a pair of Bergan kills gave the Lady Knights a 15-13 lead. The Lady Cats were never able to get any closer as Fremont Bergan booked its return trip to State with the 25-21 win.
Despite the setback, the Lady Cats had stand-out performances from several athletes Saturday.
Besides Jueden’s usual stalwart performance, the Lady Cats showed they have a bright future ahead as freshmen Lauren Howell and Olivia Grutsch and sophomores Alivia Morten and Erin Folkers also had big games.
“Obviously, I wish the last game would have ended differently. We just didn’t seem like ourselves out there,” Haselhorst said.
Despite the setback, the Lady Wildcats have nothing to be ashamed about. They made a huge transformation from the start of the season to last week’s District title contest.
“It is amazing to think how far we have come since the beginning,” Haselhorst said. “We started 0-5. I knew we were young but had some amazing talent. It was just finding the right girls for the right position. I was fortunate to have girls that could play a lot of positions. We made several changes throughout the year.
The Lady Wildcats lose some key seniors, but many youngsters got into the first rotation and that only bodes well for their 2021 prospects.
“I will really miss my four seniors, no doubt about that: I think out of all my years coaching this year was the hardest to watch end and their leadership will greatly be missed,” Haselhorst said. “I have some very talented younger girls though. I think our program as a whole is improving year after year. We are in more of those big games and starting to capitalize in those tough matches as well. I am already excited for next year. My mind is spinning with all the possibilities. Hartington-Newcastle 14 18 21
Hartington-Newcastle 14 18 21
Fremont Bergan 25 25 25
KILLS HNS - Kayden Jueden, 14; Erin Folkers,7; Alivia Morten, 3; Lauren Howell, 1; Keeley Wiepen, 1; Keanna Korth, 1.
DIGS HNS - Kayden Jueden, 21; Alivia Morten, 21; Olivia Grutsch, 18; Erin Folkers,6; Lauren Howell, 5; Keeley Wiepen, 5; Kennadi Peitz, 2; Makenna Clarkson, 2; Maya Knutson, 1; Keanna Korth, 1.
BLOCKS HNS - Lauren Howell, 3; Kayden Jueden, 2; Erin Folkers,1; Keeley Wiepen, 1; Keanna Korth, 1.
ACE SERVES HNS - Olivia Grutsch, 2; Maya Knutson, 2; Makenna Clarkson, 1.
SET ASSISTS HNS - Alivia Morten, 24; Keeley Wiepen, 1; Kayden Jueden, 1.
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