CEDAR RAPIDS – Union starts four juniors and two seniors. It needed that experience Thursday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The Knights faced a roller coaster match which they looked unstoppable in one set, and pedestrian in the next.
“I think our experience came through. We’ve had so many five-setters in the last three years with these girls,” Union head coach Brian Jesse said. “They used their experience. They didn’t let the few mistakes we made get us down.”
Combine with the Knights’ mistakes and Sioux Center improving upon its game the match went five sets with Union winning 3-2.
In its two wins, the Knights blew away Sioux Center. They took the first set 25-15, then the third 25-8. The Warriors reversed the role in the third, with a dominating 25-17 win.
“We got right on them in the third game and then that fourth game they battled us. We had a couple mistakes, but we knew they were a good team,” Jesse said. “I guess that didn’t surprise us that they battled us and that they got that four that. We just regrouped and said, ‘Hey let’s get this fifth one.’”
Even the fifth wasn’t easy. The Knights fell behind 3-2 after taking scoring the first two points. That’s when the experience and veteran mentality took over.
Union scored two straight to take a 5-3. After that point the game saw Sioux City tie the match-deciding set four more times. Each time the Knights had a response.
“We always want to swing on big points and we did,” Jesse said.
Sioux Center showed the same resiliency, bouncing back in a fourth set after trailing 5-0. They were also down two sets to one.
“They battled hard to even get to the fifth game,” Sioux Center head coach Julie Oldenkamp said. “We had some graet defense by a couple of our girls. When we knew we didn’t have the offensive threats to put the ball away the defense really stepped up, which was huge.”
The main offensive threat the Warriors were without was Jennifer Buyert. The junior tore her anterior cruciate ligament a week ago but still managed to take the court and give her team an emotion boost.
On this day it didn’t trump Union’s experience.
“We’ve got some big hitters and they came through when we needed them,” Jesse said.