Lady Dutch outlast Tigers in sectional semis

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

COURTNEY MILZ of Howards Grove scores a spike kill past Oostburg’s Jo-Leigh VerVelde in Thursday’s sectional volleyball match. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley COURTNEY MILZ of Howards Grove scores a spike kill past Oostburg’s Jo-Leigh VerVelde in Thursday’s sectional volleyball match. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley NEW HOLSTEIN – The Howards Grove Tigers and the Oostburg Lady Dutch put on a terrific display of girls volleyball here Thursday night in a Division 3 sectional semifinal match.

These two heavyweights went toe to toe, with No. 1-ranked Oostburg emerging the victor in four games, 25-14, 27-29, 25-17, 25-22. The No. 5-rated Tigers ended an outstanding season with a 37-9 record. The twotime defending D-3 state champions improved to 43-3.

“It was a great match. I was really, really impressed with Howards Grove and how hard they played and the way they defended,” said Oostburg head coach Scott Greupink.

“It was a very good, close match. The effort of both teams was very high and I was happy that we were able to step up and match their energy.”

“Overall, our staff is extremely proud of this group of athletes,” said Tiger head coach Brett Damrow. “They took a very good Oostburg team and put them in some uncomfortable situations.

“It’s always sad that somebody has to end their season after a match like that.”

Sparked by impressive net play and defense, the Tigers built an 11-2 lead in game four and were on the verge of tying the match at 2-2. Ali Schueler’s two spike kills fueled Howards’ run.

Oostburg stormed back with a 23-10 run to close out the match. The Lady Dutch took advantage of some Tiger errors and were ignited on offense by sophomore middle hitter Janeese VerVelde during the comeback. VerVelde had two straight spike kills which tied the game, 16-16, and had a block kill which evened the score at 18-18.

Tiger errors gave Oostburg three of its final seven points in game four. Senior setter/outside hitter Jo- Leigh VerVelde’s tip kill gave the Lady Dutch a 25-22 victory and a hard-earned match win.

“All night it was a game [match] of runs and we just weren’t able to stop their last run,” said Damrow.

“There was a couple of key moments in the last set and unfortunately some of the things where out of our control. I thought the team did a nice job of staying focused and controlling the things they could control.”

Oostburg came out on fire in the first game as it built an 8-1 lead and was in control the rest of the way, keyed by strong play on offense and defense.

The Tigers bounced back with a win in game two to even the match, 1-1. Howards rallied from a 15-8 deficit with an impressive 9-1 spurt to go up 17-16.

The lead seesawed back and forth as both teams showed tremendous hustle and desire. Schueler’s spike kill gave the Tigers a 28-27 advantage.

The game-winner for Howards was scored when an Oostburg spike went out of bounds. Howards’ win in game two was keyed by strong blocking and hitting.

The Lady Dutch responded very well in game three as they jumped out to a 13-2 lead and cruised to victory. Oostburg’s powerful blocking and spiking were the difference.

Greupink pointed out the keys to the match win.

“I was very pleased that we were able to put together long volleys and were able to stay patient,” said Greupink. “We were sustaining really quality, high-level play and weren’t losing our concentration.

“We had a flat spell in game two and we came back after losing the second game. We responded very well. In the fourth game, we had to make plays and we had to earn them [points].

“Everyone did their jobs [in the match]. You have to count on each other. Our net play is really a good strength but Howards Grove did a good job dealing with us,” said Greupink.

“We talked about having to put pressure on them and see how they react. We came out with a little bit of nerves but where able to put that all aside and focus at the task at hand,” said Damrow.

Schueler, a junior outside hitter, had a strong overall match. She led the Tigers in kills with 16 and digs, 25 and serve reception with 40-for-40. Courtney Milz had 11 kills. Carlie Stauss contributed 19 digs.

Brittany Schaller and Valerie Free paced Howards in ace serves with three each. Schaller and Schueler were the top servers with 14-for-14 and 10-for-10, respectively. Autumn Risch led in assists with 32.

Jo-Leigh VerVelde led Oostburg in kills with 17 and Keri Hartmann had 16. Janeese VerVelde had a team-best four blocks.

Jo-Leigh VerVelde paced the Lady Dutch in assists with 21. Maranda Huibregtse led in digs with 26. Maria Huibregtse had a team-high five ace serves.

“Ending the season at 37-9 with our extremely tough schedule is something to be extremely proud of,” said Damrow.

“We want to thank the student body and community for all their support. It was a great atmosphere for the team to show their talents.”

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