Lodestein keys big comeback in game two

NEVADA – Trouble late the second set allowed the Nevada volleyball team to find out what it’s made of in a Heart of Iowa Conference match with South Hamilton Thursday at the Nevada High School Field House.

After rolling to a 25-12 victory in the opening set, and jumping out to a 6-1 lead in game two, Nevada appeared as if it was ready to cruise to victory. But South Hamilton fought back hard in set two, rallying to tie the score at 11-11 and then eventually taking a 19-18 lead on an ace by Ady Wintermote.

"We were letting down a little bit because we were a little too confident going into the second game," Nevada middle hitter Emma Lodestein said.

The Hawks upped their lead to 23-20 and appeared on the verge of upsetting the No. 7 team in Class 3A. But after a pep talk from head coach James Brockway, Lodestein came up huge serving the ball.

Megan Pringnitz got the ball rolling for the Cubs following a time out by slamming home a big kill from the left side. South Hamilton then made back-to-back errors following Lodestein serves to allow Nevada to knot the score.

"We had a couple misses in a row, so James told us to get them in," Lodestein said of her serving. "So I knew I had to get them in."

Then Lodestein delivered the biggest play of the match when she connected for an ace serve to give Nevada the lead and set up game point. South Hamilton followed with another error to give the Cubs a 25-23 and a ton of momentum going into the third set.

"That was an awesome thing to see," Brockway said. "It showed a lot of heart and the character of this team. They bond together when the road is rough."

With all the positive energy from the comeback victory Nevada jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the third game. This time the Cubs were never threatened as they cruised to a 25-11 victory to improve to 2-0 in the HOIC and 4-2 overall.

Even though South Hamilton (3-5) is a much-improved team, Nevada knows it has tougher tests ahead in its quests to repeat as HOIC champions and make the state tournament. And that starts next Tuesday with a match in Story City against a Roland-Story squad that was 5-0 entering Thursday’s match with Collins-Maxwell-Baxter.

"That second set (against South Hamilton) made us realize we have to work hard in every game," Lodestein said. "Next week is Roland-Story, so we’ve got to come in more prepared than we were this week."

Lodestein finished with two kills and one block against South Hamilton and she was 10 of 12 serving with one ace. Mara Rhodes led Nevada with nine kills and she added one block.

Kati Cassabaum had six kills and four blocks and Pringnitz tallied six kills, 12 digs and one block. Michaela Matuska delivered 26 assists, 10 digs and two blocks, Abby Stephenson totaled six digs and five kills and Jessica Helton and Erin Francis combined for 17 digs for the Cubs.

Matuska was Nevada’s top server as she went 14 of 17 with five aces. Pringnitz was 10 of 13 with three aces and Helton finished 12 of 14 with one ace.