NEVADA - Nevada used excellent serving and a strong bench to dispose of Prairie City-Monroe in decisive fashion during the Class 3A regional quarterfinal match between the two teams Oct. 23.
The Cubs, ranked 10th in 3A, swept the Mustangs by scores of 25-7, 25-18 and 25-8 to improve to 31-9 and advance to the regional semifinals.
Nevada took advantage of several PCM mistakes thanks to its accurate and effective serving. The Cubs were an outstanding 70 of 72 serving with 11 aces in the match.
“The fun thing is we have five athletes who each have over 30 aces on their own,” Nevada head coach Jonny Sneiderman said. “When you have six servers and five of them have that many aces we’ve got a lot of servers that at any point can make that run for us.”
The Cubs were even more dialed in than usual against PCM.
“Lately we’ve been working on pressure serving in practice,” Nevada setter Morgan Tupper said. “We have to run if we don’t get a certain amount in. Knowing we’re going into in the postseason, (Sneiderman) has been testing that through practices. At state it’s going to be loud and you’re going to have to be able to serve.”
Aubrey Gibson had the best night serving the ball for Nevada.
Gibson had a tremendous serving stretch to end the first set, picking up an ace on three of Nevada’s final four points. She continued that into the start of the second, sparking a 7-0 run to help the Cubs take control right off the bat.
“We’ve been working on (serving) a lot in practice,” Gibson said. “We do it over and over and just get it done. I like getting my team the opportunity to play the ball back.”
For the match Gibson had five aces on a perfect 22 of 22 effort. She entered the regional match serving at a 94-percent clip with a team-high 42 aces despite not being overpowering with her serve.
“I’m more (about) placement,” Gibson said. “If you can target a certain passer then she can’t pass it and they can’t get an offense going.”
Gibson has also become a valuable player in the back row.
“Aubrey has just worked really hard and she has definitely earned a larger role on the team in terms of being a DS (defensive specialist) for us,” Sneiderman said. “She so good at that role that we don’t lose a beat.”
Gibson added two digs and an assist against PCM.
As a team, Nevada was a fantastic 70 of 72 serving with 11 aces in the win over the Mustangs. Ellie Gray was 21 of 22 with three aces, Hannah Thomsen 8 of 8 with one ace and Tupper and Kacie Rewerts each 6 of 6 with one ace.
Another big plus for Nevada in the win over the Mustangs was its depth.
The Cubs had eight players with at least one kill, 10 with a dig and five with an assist. Getting several players off the bench postseason experience could come in handy down the road.
“We have a super-strong bench that can fill in wherever we need them,” Sniderman said. “Our mentality is that if someone is on the court and isn’t getting the job done for us we’ve got options on our bench. I really believe we’ve got one of the best benches. It’s hard keeping them on the bench - they’re a vital option at any point and it allows our starters to play free knowing if it’s not their night we’ve got more options.”
Lily Goos came off the bench and contributed one kill and one block apiece and Madison McGaffin one kill in the victory over PCM. Maddie Dunham added six digs and one assist, Erin Coogler three digs, Bridget Patterson one dig and Mayzi Weig one block.
Offensively, Nevada had 38 kills and only 14 errors on 86 attacks behind great passing from the back row.
“We’re just trying to get a good pass so Morgan can get a really good set to our hitters,” Gray said. “We know the offense does a really good job so we just do our job for them.”
The Cubs also recorded 47 digs and six blocks.
Rewerts finished with 14 kills, seven digs and two blocks and Tupper 30 assists, eight digs, five kills and a block. Sydney Mosinski added nine kills and three digs, Thomsen five kills and seven digs, Gray eight digs, Shelbi Hazlitt two kills and blocks apiece and Katelyn Kingsbury one kill.