Playing five sets for the third time in five matches, the Hutchinson Community College volleyball team outlasted Pratt in the Lady Dragons’ home and Jayhawk West opener, defeating the Beavers 3-2 on Wednesday night at the Sports Arena.
The Lady Dragons had a huge blocking advantage in defeating Pratt 25-10, 28-30, 25-15, 14-25, 15-11.
Hutchinson (2-3, 1-0 Jayhawk West) had a 20-5 blocking advantage against the defending Jayhawk West champion Beavers (3-2, 0-1). Sophomore Cassie Wiley posted a season-high nine blocks and freshman Emily Oberlin had seven total blocks.
Now 2-1 in five-set matches this season, Hutchinson won its 13th-straight home opener.
The ups and downs of a freshman-dominated roster early in the season were evident on Wednesday vs. Pratt. The Lady Dragons dominated sets 1 and 3. They trailed 22-19 in the second set, then scored five in a row to get to set point only to falter on six set points as Pratt tied the match at 1-1.
Pratt dominated the fourth, but HCC jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the decisive fifth set before holding on to win by four.
“It all goes back to we are a young team,” HCC head coach Sarah Myers said. “The inexperience of being in those types of situations and being able to really push and finish when you fought so hard to get back in it and execute when we need to deliver.”
Sophomore Jordan Rehm led the Lady Dragons, posting a double-double with 12 kills and 13 digs. Freshman Shayne Haley had 11 kills and Wiley added nine seven kills. Hutchinson had just 45 team kills in the match.
Freshman setter Haley Young had 29 assists. Oberlin added four service aces. Freshman libero Paige Forrester had a team-high 15 digs. Freshman Alyssa Riffel added 10 digs.
“We had to believe in each other and play as a team,” Rehm said. “When one person gets an awesome dig or kill, we have to feed off of that and keep going. We did that in the fifth set.”
Hannah Melichar had 11 kills and four stuff blocks to lead Pratt. Bailey Rush had 10 kills and Kylee Pywell added nine kills.
Hutchinson got out to a 6-1 first-set lead and never looked back. Five points (8-3) was the closest the Beavers got. Pratt had five attack errors and Young caught the Beavers out of position with four second-hit attacks deep into the corners. Her fourth kill came on set point for a 25-10 lead.
The Lady Dragons were their own worst enemy in the second set. Six of their 14 service errors came in the second set, along with two net violations and a pair of hitting errors helped Pratt stay in the set early. HCC second set, along with two net violations and a pair of hitting errors helped Pratt stay in the set early. HCC led 10-8 as the first four Beaver points came on HCC errors. HCC led 10-8 before Melichar, Pywell and Rush started connecting. Pratt led 22-19. HCC went on a five-point run, getting two blocks and a kill from Wiley. HCC led 24-22, but Pratt fought off six set points and scored the final three points of the set to knot the match at 1-1.
“We fought hard to get to set point,” Myers said. “Not to be able to execute and put away, that was one you really wanted to get and have momentum on your side. It didn’t work that way.”
“We should have come out stronger, but we were satisfied after the first game,” Haley said.
Rehm had five kills and two blocks as HCC closed out the third set on an 11-1 run, including the final eight points of the set after the set was tied at 14-all. Freshman Jade Nelson, who had six kills, started the final run with a pair of kills. Rehm then finished off the Beavers with two kills and a combo block with Young on set point for a 25-15 win and a 2-1 match lead.
It was all Pratt in the fourth set as the Beavers jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Melichar had two kills and two solo blocks to pace the Beavers. Wiley had two kills and three blocks to lead HCC in the set.
Kills by Haley, Nelson and Rehm sparked the Lady Dragons to a 3-0 lead to start the fifth set. That lead grew to 8-2 at the court change after Rehm and Haley teamed up for a stuff. The Beavers then went on a 10-2 run and after Sara Aliosio’s service ace, HCC’s lead had dwindled to 12-10. Wiley’s huge kill on a middle attack got the Lady Dragons to match point and Pratt’s 16th attack error of the night ended the match with HCC winning 15-11.
“We had gotten the feel of the five-game thing and it really helped being in those other games that we went five,” Haley said. “It was important (to have the fast start). You have to go out and set the tone in the fifth game.”
Hutchinson will play four matches this weekend at the Redlands Classic in El Reno , Okla. The Lady Dragons return home on Labor Day Monday for a 6:30 p.m. match against Garden City at the Sports Arena.