Blue Jackets stay unbeaten

NEW RIEGEL – It hasn’t even been that long since New Riegel last beat Mohawk, but three matches against your arch rival can feel like eternity.

The Blue Jackets beat the Warriors in the 2011 regular season, but since then, Mohawk toppled New Riegel in two district finals and in last year’s regular season meeting.

So when Morgan Noftz served an ace for the match’s final point, it’s understandable that the New Riegel gymnasium erupted. The fans rushed the court to congratulate their Blue Jackets on a 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 25-19 win over Mohawk.

“After playing for four years varsity to come out and beat them is just amazing because they’re always our biggest rival,” New Riegel’s Lauren Ladd said.

“This is always our biggest rival in the MAL so it feels good to come out on top this time,” Kara Scherger added. “I don’t even know how to describe the emotions. It just like all crazy, the intensity. The fans were right there with us. Their fans, our fans right together. It was just a very loud game, so it’s very upbeat.”

New Riegel coach Cindy Walerius says the Mohawk game is the one that’s circled every year and she’s glad her team was able to get the win.

“It’s really nice. Every year we always look to see when we play these guys because we just love this rivalry,” she said. “We love to go against them. Last couple years, yeah they’ve had the best of us. It feels so good to finally be able beat them. But we know we beat a great team. We totally respect these guys and knew they were going to bring their A-Game, and they did. I’m so happy with the girls.”

Mohawk coach Eric Hoover also appreciated the intensity that the rivalry game brought, but just wishes the ending could be a bit different.

“It was about what I expected as far as the intensity of the match and the atmosphere in the gym,” he said. “There’s a lot of very good volleyball players out there on the court. It’s not the ending I was hoping for, but it was fun to be apart of.”

In a four-game match, a lot of different spots can be pointed to as being the crucial ones. But no stretch was bigger than at the end of game two. New Riegel already had a one-game edge, but trailed Mohawk 18-14 in game two.

Noftz came up with a kill to put the serve in the hands of Scherger. Hoover admitted after the game his team had trouble handling her serve. The junior ripped off the next eight points, including three aces, to put New Riegel in control.

“Towards the end I was starting to get tired, but I was like just pushing myself to the end because we need that serve cause if I miss it it’s just another point for them just giving it to them,” Scherger said. “I had to make them earn them.”

Mohawk got one back, but that was all. New Riegel took 11 of the final 12 points to take the game.

Taylor Arbogast had three kills in that span, including one after a diving dig from Scherger that kept the run going. Arbogast had six kills in the game and 14 in the match.

“That game I’ll tell ya, the way we came back. I called a time out and I really let them have it,” Walerius said. “I said ‘Why have we worked so hard?’ and then ‘We got to really take it to them right now. You either step up or its going to be a rough night if they win that game.’ And I think we did.”

Mohawk held off another furious New Riegel rally to win game three, but New Riegel was anxious to end it.

“We did not want to go into that fifth game,” Scherger said. “So we put all our momentum and all our energy into that fourth game.”

It paid off as New Riegel was able to close out the match in that fourth game.

Scherger finished with 15 kills and Ladd chipped in 13 with Noftz setting them up to the tune of 23 assists.

But as strong as the hitting was for the Blue Jackets, the defense might have been what won them the match.

“That’s something that I think really defensively we’ve always been a good defensive team for over the years. If you look at our team we got Lauren Ladd,” Walerius said with her hand over her head, “and then we got the rest of the team,” she added with her hand at eye-level. “We’re really short. We know that, but we preach about being quick and getting to the ball.”

“At practices it’s go hard or go home,” Ladd added. “You better be on your toes doing your best at practice or we’ll get a checking from our coach.”

Scherger had 22 digs, Arbogast had 21 and Brittany Gillig had 16.

Hoover said the way New Riegel scrambled to loose balls was critical to the direction of the match.

“I think the difference in the whole match was, in a match like that, there’s going to be a lot of out-of-system balls, where balls are flying everywhere,” he said. “They do a little better job of handling those, staying calm and getting a good attack on them than we do.”

Mohawk managed good numbers defensively, Julie Adelsperger picked up 37 digs, Taylor McClain had 27 and Ali Konkle 21. Mohawk’s offense was led by Kasey Adelsperger with 17 kills. Julie Adelsperger added 11.

New Riegel stays unbeaten at 11-0, 5-0 Midland Athletic League while Mohawk drops to 8-2, 4-1.