Nov. 3, 2010
Northwest treats Red Oak to five-set thriller
By David Boyce
|Rinehart speaks with KCSI FM Radio following Wednesday's win.|
The ovation made sense. Spangenberg and Hanna were home, playing a college volleyball match at their high school gymnasium in Red Oak, Iowa.
The homecoming included Northwest first-year coach Jessica Rinehart, who led the Red Oak Tigers to their first Iowa state volleyball appearance in 1995.
The Red Oak faithful remembered them well and showed their support in Northwest's heart-stopping 25-21, 25-18, 18-25, 24-26, 15- 13 victory over Nebraska-Omaha Wednesday evening.
"I think both teams fed off the crowd," said Randy Spangenberg, the father of Paige. "As a fan and father of one of the players the match about killed me."
The match ended on senior hitter Amber Guthrie's push shot that dropped in.
"It was a little nerve-wracking, but we showed our composure and did a good job of sticking with it," Guthrie said.
An estimated crowd of 800 fans watched the Bearcats win their third straight match and improve to 14-11 overall and 10-6 in the MIAA.
"It was more than I expected," said Hanna, who finished with a team-high 13 kills. "The crowd was awesome. I don't think there was an empty seat in the gym. It was great to see people come out and support Paige and me, especially this far out since we've been in high school."
Listed as a home match, the surroundings for Northwest was anything but home. High school banners with names such as Creston, Glenwood and Shenandoah have nothing to do with the MIAA.
But the enthusiasm inside Red Oak High School Wednesday night rivaled any setting of any MIAA school.
"This was beyond exciting," said Paige Spangenberg. "It was special. It was so neat to play in front of my home fans and surrounding communities and the Northwest fans that came. It was really a special night."
Before the match, Rinehart received several hugs and well wishes from Red Oak residents who remembered her from her days playing at the high school.
"It was special," Rinehart said. "I saw faces that I haven't seen in 15 years. It was incredible for the town to come out and support us like they did."
Rinehart turned the greetings with a huge smile. It would have been easy for her to get caught up in the emotions of the night.
The Bearcats, though, were ready. They scored the first point in four of the five sets.
In the first set, UNO grabbed leads of 2-1 and held its brief advantage at 6-5. The Bearcats took over from there. Northwest went ahead 7-6 and held the lead for good at 8-7.
Northwest built a 23-17 lead and then stumbled a bit, allowing the Mavericks to close to 23-20. Rinehart called timeout. The Bearcats won the next point and the set ended on a strong kill by freshman Whitney Mason.
The Bearcats continued their momentum in the second set, bolting to a 6-1 lead that eventually grew to 10-2.
UNO rallied and closed to 11-8. Rinehart called a timeout. The Bearcats responded again, scoring the next two points. They were never threatened the rest of the set.
Leading the way for the Bearcats in the second set was senior Sara Falcone, who knew when to go for the hard kill and when to tap in a dink that was just as effective.
All good stories need tension in the plot to spice things up. Northwest provided the drama in the third set when it surrendered an 18-15 lead in shocking fashion. UNO scored the last 10 points of the set to force a game four.
The plot thickened more when Northwest let a 24-21 lead in the fourth set turn into a set loss. Needing just one more point to end the match, the Bearcats gave up five straight to lose it.
Suddenly, a joyous homecoming was looking like a heartbreaking loss.
But the Bearcats rose up from a demoralizing finish of the fourth set and scored the first eight points in the match-deciding fifth set.
"We knew we had to come out on fire," Guthrie said. "They had the momentum. I think we did a good job of bouncing back and getting the momentum back."
The Bearcats were in control, but they still gave their fans a few more anxious moments. UNO closed from 11-2 to 11-7. Northwest briefly stopped the rally when senior Rachel Nisi came up with an important kill to make it 12-7.
"I was trying to stay calm and deliver the right message and just find a way to help our team win," Rinehart said. "I think we kind of let the atmosphere get to us. Nerves came in. I was trying to do what I could to calm the nerves and stay confident."
Still, the Mavericks kept battling, closing to 12-11.
But the Bearcats had the final bit of magic on Guthries' push winner.
"It was awesome," Guthrie said. "It reminded of when I played in high school. It was so loud. It was a lot of fun. I think we gave a pretty good game. We like to make it exciting."
A lot of credit should also be given to UNO and coach Rose Shires, who agreed to take her team to a high school gym. The Mavericks played well, making for a highly entertaining match.
"It was a great thing to play here," Shires said. "You are not going to get this environment anyplace else because every other gym we play in is so much bigger. I think it really put a little more urgency in the match and a little more pressure in the match.
"I think playing here was great. I think people here saw a great match from both teams."
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