HOT, UNHAPPY: Hawks clipped in 5 by Tigers in gym/oven

JEWELL – A missed tip here, a block that inched its way out of bounds there and it’s a different story.

Really, that’s all that separated South Hamilton and Gilbert in a marathon Heart of Iowa Conference volleyball battle on Coach Jim Marsh Court here last night.

Two stinkin’ points.

Locked at two sets all and 13-13 in the fifth and deciding set, Gilbert received a clutch push into an open area of the court by libero Yuliya Ivanytska to take the lead and it ended on the next point on a South Hamilton error at net, as the Tigers survived in five, 23-25, 25-21, 25-11, 23-25, 15-13.

“I was very happy with our fight,” South Hamilton head coach Cindy Holmes said afterwards as sweat poured down her face. “The last two or three points of the match were unfortunate because kids made good decisions, but ended up with aggressive errors.”

The South Hamilton High School gymnasium was a furnace, but both teams refused to give an inch despite the heat. The Hawks (6-9, 0-2 HOIC) started strong and then faltered with their serve receive in the middle games, and the Tigers (6-6, 1-1 HOIC) took advantage behind the jump serve of Nicole Gammon and the swing of Alex Miner.

Gilbert appeared to be on its way to a four-set victory as it jumped in front 19-13. South Hamilton chipped away at the lead though and eventually jumped in front, 22-21, on a tip into the open by Savana Stangeland. It was the culmination of a 9-2 run that put the fire back in the Hawks.

“In (set) four I saw a lot of kids break in a positive way,” Holmes said. “They went from disbelief to ‘let’s go!’ and I saw it deepen into belief. That was great to see.”

Freshman outside hitter Ady Wintermote put the finishing touches on the fourth set for the Hawks. She belted four kills in a span of six points; the third off a block put the Hawks in charge 24-23, and she finished it off with a cross-court slam moments later.

Wintermote crushed a match-high 18 kills. Alyssa Hegland – a star in the second set to keep the Hawks within striking distance – finished with 12. Stangeland added six and Tiffany Jacobson finished with five.

Gilbert surged to a 12-8 lead in the tiebreaking set on an ace by Taylor Suntken, but again the Hawks had the answer. A service winner by Kenzie Busch was part of a 4-0 run that tied the set at 12, and Wintermote’s final kill of the night gave the Hawks a brief 13-12 lead.

The Tigers had the final answer though with three consecutive points.

“(Wintermote) really had a look in her eyes … she stepped up a notch as a player on this team (last night) and I think she knew people were behind her,” Holmes said. “I thought Hegland stepped up and handled that outside spot really well, too.”

Avery Klemp was a defensive pest for the Hawks with eight blocks. Stangeland and Jacobson both got their mitts on seven Gilbert attacks.

Senior libero Hannah Pulis piled up 18 digs in a losing effort. Hegland collected 11, while setters Kenzie Busch and Molly Minich picked up seven each.

Minich distributed 20 assists; Busch finished with 13.