By David Keech
September 12, 2017
Athens— The Marawood Conference has been garnering significant attention throughout the state as having some darn good volleyball teams, and with good reason. Stratford, Athens, and Abbotsford are off to great starts this season, and Tuesday evening, 2016 state tournament entrant Athens hosted Abbotsford in a contest that would help decide the Marawood Conference title.
Athens came out firing in the first set, as senior Kaitlyn Brooks scored the Bluejays’ first three points on kills. Athens won the first set 25-20, pulling away after holding a 18-16 lead.
“Everyone compliments Kaitlyn well,” explained Athens Head Coach Tanille Hartwig. “When Kenadi isn’t there to set, the team sets Kaitlyn up well.”
Brooks led Athens with 23 kills, Kenadi Diedrich had 48 assists, and Gabi Janke had 16 digs.
The Falcons took their first lead of the evening at 5-4 in set number two, but it was short lived. Athens took control right back, with Brooks picking up a big block at the end, and it looked like Athens had momentum that could not be stopped.
Then the Falcons dug in. Midway through the set, junior Mel Kunze had two kills that kept Abby in the game, but following a Bluejay timeout, surged back ahead. A Brooks kill gave Athens a 18-17 lead, and despite a timeout by the Falcons, their lead grew to 22-18.
Just like that, Abbotsford dug in for the second time in the set, pulling to 22-21, prompting a second Athens timeout. Abbotsford pulled away, however, and won the set, 25-23.
“I think our unforced errors cost us. We didn’t take advantage of opportunities tonight,” said Abbotsford Head Coach Lee Schreiber.
Set number four found Kunze working her magic once again for the Falcons, with four kills to her credit, the last knotting the score at 14.
Kunze led the Falcons with 19 kills and 10 digs. Dylana Schreiner added 9 kills and 11 digs.
Megan Biitner had 20 assists, with Jayden Falteisek adding 15 assists for Abbotsford.
“We are still a young team. We have a ways to go, but it still looks pretty when it works,” Schreiber said.
With the crowd on the edge of their seats down the stretch, the two teams fought with their all, and Athens picked up the win and took the match by winning 25-22.
“Abbotsford really picked up their game in set three. We were tired and it’s my job as captain to get everyone together and play well,” said Brooks.
“I really think we came out strong in sets one and two. We really relaxed too much in set three, didn’t play our game. It was nice to see our offense return in game 4,” explained Hartwig.
“I think we are looking good so far. We are working hard in practice and come away sore and exhausted, but it’s all worth it,” Brooks shared.
Match notes: Kaitlyn Brooks has a vertical jump and jumping ability that sets her apart and is amazing to watch. If you haven’t had a chance to watch her jump out of the gym, you are missing a great opportunity… Abbotsford’s Kunze is a difference maker on offense and defense, and her second jump is one of the fastest I have seen… Both teams will be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the season, and will be two teams opponents do not want to see in the postseason.