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HNS Lady Wildcats end season in SubDistricts

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CROFTON — Hartington-Newcastle went up against the No. 1-seed Crofton Lady Warriors in the C2-5 SubDistrict volleyball tournament.

The Lady Wildcats battled to the bitter end, but in the end, they dropped the best-of-five match in straight sets, 24-26, 15-25 and 18-25.

“The girls played with a lot of heart,” HNS head coach Sarah Edwards said. “We were so close to winning that first set, but a few untimely errors got in the way.”

Although Hartington-Newcastle was swept by Crofton, it battled every set.

In fact, in the opening set, the Lady Wildcats built a 17-11 lead after a service error by the Lady Warriors and a block at the net by Lauren Howell.

Crofton scored five of the next six points to narrow the gap and force Edwards to call timeout with her team clinging to an 18-16 lead.

A Hartington-Newcastle hitting error made it a one-point advantage before Mani Lange smashed a winner down the left side of the court to make it 19-17.

A couple of Crofton errors were sandwiched around a Lady Warrior kill and the Lady Wildcats were in front by three, 21-18.

Crofton hit another winner before back-toback hitting errors by the Lady Wildcats, one that was just inches long and one inches outside the line to the left, and the set was tied 21-21.

McKenzie Bruning rifled a kill cross court to tie the set again at 22-22 and it was tied again at 23-23.

Crofton got to a set-point with a kill to make it 24-23 but a block by Zoey Gratzfeld and Howell evened the score again 24-24.

A Hartington-Newcastle hitting error made it 25-24 and the Lady Wildcats were called for being in the net to end the set by the 26-24 final.

Although they lost the second set by 10, Hartington-Newcastle was in it and trailed by a single point 16-15.

Crofton opened the set 2-0 before a Howell winner and an ace serve by Kennadi Peitz made it 2-2.

Another ace, this one from Olivia Grutsch, gave the Lady Wildcats their first lead of the set 5-4.

The Lady Warriors responded and took a 1310 lead but back came Hartington-Newcastle.

Lange smashed another winner then Crofton committed a hitting error to make it 13-12 in favor of the Lady Warriors.

The lead grew to 15-12 before a block by Bruning and Lange and an ace from Grutsch made it 15-14.

Crofton had a service error to make it 16-15, but Hartington-Newcastle wouldn’t score the rest of the set to fall behind in the match 2-0.

Even in the final race to 25, the Lady Wildcats trailed only 16-14 before being outscored 9-4 down the stretch to drop the match and end the season.

“This team has been right there each game set we played all season,” Edwards said. “A little mistake here and there made the difference.”

Gratzfeld ended the match with four kills; Lange, Howell and Bruning each had three.

Alivia Morten, Peitz and Grutsch each had an ace serve while Morten and Grutsch had eight and six set assists repectively.

Grutsch had 17 digs to pace the defense, Abi Rice and Peitz had 14 each, Lange added 11 and Morten had 10.

“It was an emotional night for all of us,” Edwards said. “We are sad to see our seniors leave, but are very thankful for all they have done for us and the team.”

Hartington-Newcastle ended the season with a 9-21 record while Crofton was set to take a 17-10 record into the sub-district finals Oct. 25 in Crofton.

“All of the coaches are very proud of the great attitudes that the players brought to this match and every match we played,” Edwards said. “They worked together helping to build each other up.”