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December 1, 2021

10/22/2021 11:28:00 AM
Cardinals find the championship crown fits very well

A day at the beach in Florida couldn't be hotter than the Potosi gym Thursday as the Chieftains hosted Highland in a match to determine the Six Rivers West champion.
With the need for towels at the sidelines to frequently wipe up moisture from the floor caused by the capacity crowd, the Cardinals cooled off the Chieftains 3-2 in a five set match. Potosi started the match with a 25-21 win in the first set but the Cardinals answered with a 25-14 comeback in set two. The Cardinals also claimed the third set 25-21.
But the Chieftains were not ready to have their fans go home yet and forced a fifth set by edging the Cardinals 25-19.
Potosi got the first two points in the deciding set and the lead 4-2 but the Cardinals went on an 8-0 run to go up 10-4. Potosi cut it to four but Highland finished with a 5-1 difference.
Rachel Miller was the force as the Cardinals moved to the win with five kills in the last 13 points and six for the match. Katelyn Esser started the Cards with a kill for their first point. Meg Tarrell got a kill for point number 14 and a return error by the Chieftains spelled "Championship" for coach Maria Wineski's Cardinals. It is the first volleyball title for Highland since 2010.
Highland's biggest challenge of the night came from 6'0" Chieftain Kylie Reuter who recorded 21 kills when she made it through the rotation to the front row. For Potosi coach Jolene Murray, who is retiring after this season, the goal was to have her middle blocker in the front row as much as possible. For Wineski her goal was to keep her in the back and handle her returns as well as they could.
Esser and Katelyn Mueller did their best to battle Reuter at the net and each had some big blocks and kills over the Chieftain's star. When Mueller took her turn in the back row she was able to help return some of Reuter's hits which helped Highland get control in the matches they won.
The first set saw Potosi take a 4-0 lead but the Cardinals battled and made it a back and fourth match the rest of the way. It was 21-20 with Potosi in the lead before they pulled away. With the score 24-20 Jenna James got a block but that was it for Highland as Brooke Traver put down a kill for match point.
It was Esser who got the kills at the end of the second set that the Cardinals finished with seven points to Potosi's one.
Mueller had four kills in the third set win with Miller adding two and James one. It was Esser who ended things with a block and a kill for the win.
If the Cardinals thought they would have it easy in the fourth set Reuter did not agree. She put her team on her back and got into the front row often enough for eight kills. The set ended on a Highland serving error which set up the deciding match.
Highland got on a role in the fifth set and never looked back.
Wineski said that Mueller getting in the back row and picking up Reuter's hits proved to be huge for the Cardinals.
"She was a key in shutting down Potosi offensively and letting us do what we wanted to do," Wineski said.
Wineski also added the middle hitters, Esser and Mueller, blocked Reuter several times.
As for moving forward Wineski said the team wil be working on taking care of the ball.
"We had several hitting errors and we need to clean that up," she said.
"But tonight we battled and did some very good things," Wineski said. "Those were some very hard fought matches and I am proud of the girls. Words really can't describe what I am feeling right now."
Potosi lost twice in the SRW this season with Highland accounting for both of them. In the post season seeding meeting the two teams fought it out for the number one seed which was awarded to the Cardinals. Highland had beaten Potosi in their last meeting and knocked off River Ridge the same week which gave them the edge for the top seed which has a bye along with it. If the two teams meet again it will be in the Regional finals.

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