The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

August 25, 2007

East volleyball team sweeps GFW

New alignment, aggressive serving key Cougars’ season-opening victory

MANKATO — Looking very comfortable in its new 6-2 alignment, the Mankato East volleyball team opened its season Friday with an impressive 25-21, 25-17, 25-22 nonconference win over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop at the East gym.

Senior outside hitter Kirstie Schriock led a balanced Cougars attack with eight kills while senior middle hitter Nikki Gosson and freshman middle Hallie Enderle banged six apiece. The Cougars also got five kills from Laura Vanderhoof and four each from Mariah Verkinderen and Elizabeth Frost.

“That’s why we went to the 6-2,” coach Bob Gospeter said. “We’ve got two very nice setters and a bunch of hitters out there so we can go anywhere with it. As long as we keep getting the pass up there, we’ll have a lot of options and they’re going to be hard to defend. ... I was also very impressed with our defense.”

Senior setter Kerri Jones collected 14 assists and fired a team-best four service aces while sophomore Haley Nourie added 11 assists and three ace serves. East tallied 11 total service aces with Gosson also picking up a pair.

“The girls have been serving more aggressively this year,” said Gospeter, in his 21st and final season as East coach. “I’ve always coached conservative serving, but until we show we can’t get those serves in, I am going to let them go. With rally scoring, if you serve up a marshmallow, they’re just going to drill it back at you.”

After Carmen Black’s ace block gave the Thunderbirds a 13-12 lead in Game 1, Schriock’s kill and three straight service points from Gosson put East in front 16-13. Verkinderen, Enderle and Frost then had ace hits before Jones’ two ace serves finished off a 25-21 win.

The Cougars’ defensive intensity picked up in Game 2 as two kills each from Vanderhoof, Gosson and Schriock produced a 17-10 lead. GFW hung around behind the hitting of senior Staphanie Kruggel before a Frost kill and Nourie’s no-look ace dump closed out a 25-17 victory.

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