Tigers down Indians in 5

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Sleepy Eye’s McKenna Strong tries to block a spike from Springfield’s Sydney Hauger Thursday in Sleepy Eye.

SLEEPY EYE — Despite Sleepy Eye’s comeback from being down 2-0, Springfield held off the Indians enough to secure a 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 19-25, 15-8 Tomahawk Conference volleyball victory on Thursday night.

The Tigers were led by Eva Mark’s 38 set assists and Mya Mickelson’s 14 kills and two blocks. Also for Springfield, Brittany Rogotzke had 39 digs, while Kora Wahl had 12 kills and Courtney Wendt had eight kills, four blocks and four aces.

The Indians were led by Brittney Dittbenner, who had 14 kills, 18 digs and four aces and Madi Krueger, who had 32 digs. McKenna Strong added five kills and two blocks for the Indians, while Sandy Flores and Cassidy Hoffmann had 13 set assists each.

Hoffmann also had three blocks, while Macy Schenk had four kills and three blocks.

After a first four sets full of comebacks by each team, the fifth set was full of early errors from both sides of the court, but the Tigers were the first team to gain an upper hand with a kill by Wendt for an 8-5 lead. The Indians added a single point after on an attack error before Springfield closed out the final set on a 7-2 run for the win, led by three late kills by Mickelson.

“I’ve definitely been talking a lot this whole season that the girls just need to come out and believe in themselves,” Springfield head coach Tiffany Pierson said. “As coaches, we believe in them, but they have to believe that we can come out and we can win matches and be agressive and just play.”

Earlier in the night, the Tigers trailed 8-4 in the first set but battled back to take their first lead of the set, 19-18, and never let up from there, going on a 7-1 run to take the first set.

Set 2 was similar to Set 1 in the fact that the Indians again took an early lead, 11-6, after a kill by Kathryn Schroepfer and an ace by Krueger. But the Tigers went on a run near the middle of the set and after a pair of aces and a kill by Wendt, led 18-16.

The Tigers again did enough to hold off the Indians and take Set 2 before the Indians went on a run of their own in the next two sets.

In the third set, the Indians’ lead swelled to 17-9 after an ace by Flores, but the Tigers again clawed back to tie it at 18 after a 9-1 run. Despite the Springfield surge, the Indians held on to take Set 3.

Sleepy Eye then had a 12-6 lead early on in the fourth set after seven straight Springfield errors. The Tigers managed to go on a 5-0 run later on to lead 17-15, led by two kills and an ace from Wahl, but the Indians forced the fifth set after a late ace by Flores and a pair of kills by Dittbenner.

Sleepy Eye head coach Sydney Geiger was still happy with her team’s play and ability to battle back and force a fifth set despite the loss.

“We didn’t give up,” Geiger said. “We came out and we stayed aggressive in [Sets] 3 and 4, which is what got us there, what got us the wins for it. Then we started out kind of iffy but we came back in the fifth and then kind of just fell apart in that fifth set. I give the girls a lot of credit, though, for coming back.”

Sleepy Eye (7-12, 0-8) is at St. Clair on Monday, while Springfield (11-11, 3-5) plays in the Jimmy John’s Tournament at Marshall on Friday and Saturday.