KIRTLAND—Kirtland topped visiting North on Monday, 3-1, to extend its winning streak to 20 straight matches.
The Hornets, who opened the season with a 3-0 loss at defending state runner-up Independence, have reeled off 20 straight wins with an incredible 57 sets won to seven sets loss advantage.
“It was definitely a close match tonight,” said Kirtland coach Arlayna Newcomer. “The 20 wins in a regular season is something we’re really proud of and we’re going into (Tuesday’s) game with the intention to make it 21.”
Kirtland won the Senior Night match against the Rangers 24-26, 25-16, 25-10, 29-27.
“In the first set, we tried a few new and different things and we had trouble adjusting,” Newcomer said. “Looking back at it, I’m glad it happened now instead of during the postseason. I look at it as a learning opportunity.”
After dropping the first set, the Hornets settled in and setter Katie Reynolds began feeding her hitters from all angles.
Reynolds finished the match with 43 assists.
Georgia DeJohn led the Hornets with 16 kills and Natalie Glowe posted a team-best five blocks. Ava Golem recorded 41 digs in the win.
Throughout their winning streak, the Hornets have swept their opponents in 15 of 20 matches, so playing an intense back-and-forth contest the way they did against the Rangers forced the Hornets to overcome adversity and rally behind each other to pull out the win.
“Playing in games like tonight is what makes us better,” Newcomer said. “While we struggled at times, we were challenged and I’ll take a hard-fought win any day of the week.”
North dropped to 5-15 on the year, but the Rangers rose to the occasion of playing a defending district champion and put together one of their most complete matches of the year.
“The whole team, we were all in,” said North coach Tamara Heller. “We use that phrase a lot but all of us have to be 100-percent into the match and I think some games, we’ve taken off and maybe had one or two fully in, but not the whole team. I think tonight we all came to battle. We have nothing to hang our heads about. They’re a good team. They pass really, really well and serve well, but we battled.”
The Rangers clawed their way to a win in the first set and were on the verge of being run out of the gym in the fourth before battling back to eventually take the lead on multiple occasions. North lined up to serve for set point twice in that epic decisive fourth set.
North’s success in competing with Kirtland started with setter Jaiden Anderson, who recorded 27 assists and 16 digs in the match.
She found her hitters, especially in the middle, and kept the Hornet block from settling in at the net.
“Jaiden has come a long way. She distributed the ball well today,” Heller said. “When we can pass, we can count on our middles to put the ball away.”
Breonna Preston finished the match with 21 digs.
“She thrives in situations like this that are high intensity,” Heller said. “She came out to play today. She did well.”
Madi Jablonski led the Rangers with eight kills.