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A somewhat undermanned Adams Central volleyball team traveled to the Teepee Saturday night to battle defending class 3A state champ Bellmont and although the Squaws won the match in three straight games fairly easily the final scores were not indicative of the play on the court.
With all-conference senior setter Alyssa Keller sidelined due to illness and junior inspirational leader and outside hitter Bess Fiechter absent due to a wedding in her family, the Jets went with three freshmen seeing significant action with Madi Schwartz, Haley Gross, and Whittney Peterson playing anything but like freshmen.
The Squaws won the first and third game by counts of 25-12 and the middle round to the tune of 25-20 but AC coach Jeremi Schortgen said she found many positives for her team which dropped to 1-1 on the season.
"We had a really good effort by a group of really young players. Last night was the first time Madi had worked with the varsity as setter and I thought under the circumstances she did a great job (she finished with 13 assists). Haley was awesome in the middle. She led us in kills and Whittney didn't back down at all in her attacks.
"Bellmont is a totally different team than last year but they still have a lot of good players. I see our young team as one that's going to get better every time we play. We may lose some games early but if they will do what we ask of them I think they really have the capability of being a force to be reckoned with in the sectional."
Bellmont moved to 3-0 with its second win over an ACAC team this week.
"I think you have to give Adams Central a lot of credit," noted BHS coach Craig Krull, adding "we made a lot of mental mistakes and gave away a lot of points in situations in which we should have scored. The season's early and these are things we'll work on in practice."
A large, but mostly passive crowd attended the event and didn't resemble the noisy ensemble most Adams Central-Bellmont tilts feature.
"This game is always competitive but tonight for some reason it didn't feel like it," Krull said, continuing "the crowd wasn't into the game as much as past AC-Bellmont games." Schortgen echoed those thoughts adding "we have to give the crowd something to cheer about. As we continue on though the season, I think those things will come about."
Bellmont senior Payton Schultz dominated the first game for the Squaws recording back-to-back kills to stretch an early BHS lead and later in the game contributed back-to-back aces that put Bellmont up 14-7. The Squaws outscored Adams Central 9-3 to finish off the round, appropriately enough with a pair of Schultz kills.
Schultz had six of her team-high 11 kills in the first game while Bailee Hankenson drilled in three of her 10 kills. Gross and Abby Lichtle each had a pair of kills for the Jets.
The second game, according to Schortgen, "showed me more of the team that I saw against Eastbrook Thursday night (a three-game sweep for the Jets). While Bellmont threatened to run away early when Allison Gutierrez found a seam in the AC defense for two opening aces and two AC hitting errors resulted in a 4-0 edge, the Jets slowly but surely worked their way back to a 12-12 tie on a huge kill by Abby Snyder, a play that brought one of the loudest crowd reactions of the night.
That momentum was short-lived, however, as a service error by AC, a Holly Hankenson kill and two Jet miscues put the Squaws back in control at 16-12. Bellmont moved to game point at 24-17 but the Monroe visitors nailed three straight points before committing a net violation to give round two to the Bellmonters.
The closest Adams Central, after a slow start, would get again in the game was five on a Lichtle kill at 9-4 and Sarah Norder, who recorded seven kills on the night for Bellmont, concluded the evening with a shot to the AC side of the floor.
Bellmont will receive a true test of ability Tuesday at Concordia facing perhaps the best team in the SAC (and will then face them four days later in the meat grinder known as the Yorktown Invitational next Saturday). In between they'll face county rival South Adams at the Teepee on Thursday.
"We'll have to play better than tonight against Concordia if we're going to beat them," Krull asserted. "They have a lot of seniors and have a strong program," he said.