Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021
Cardinals stay perfect
New Bremen outduels Coldwater in four sets
By Tom Haines
New Bremen's Kaylee Freund goes up for a spike over a pair of Coldwater blockers. . .
NEW BREMEN - Coming into Tuesday's match, Coldwater and New Bremen were a combined 23-1 and had only lost five sets apiece.
Something had to give.
In the first set, it was the Division IV top-ranked Cardinals on their heels, but then the script flipped and New Bremen closed out two tight wins to finish off a 19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-23 victory in a Midwest Athletic Conference volleyball match at the Nest.
"The first game we didn't serve very well, they were in system a lot, and when Coldwater's in system nobody's going to beat them," New Bremen coach Diana Kramer said. "So we made some adjustments on our first contact and that seemed to be a big difference."
Leading 10-6 in the fourth set, Coldwater (12-2, 2-2 MAC) left the door open and the Cardinals charged through. The Cavaliers committed three straight service errors, two sailing over the back line, as New Bremen (13-0, 4-0 MAC) rattled off an 8-2 run to take control.
Coldwater never led again, with the Cardinals stretching the lead to five at 21-16. The Cavaliers scored four straight late in the set with Spencer Etzler's ace cutting the margin to 23-22 before a blocking error gave New Bremen match point. Jenna Leugers hit a shot from left to right that made it 24-23, but the Cardinals' Rianna Paul responded with a kill down the left side to finish off the win.
"We were zone serving and trying to go hard, and we just missed deep a little bit," Coldwater coach Nikki Etzler said. "The risk has to be there a little bit to get the reward, and we just missed two, three feet out. You never want to miss back-to-back serves, so I think that made the momentum shift back to New Bremen."
It was New Bremen's second narrow win of the night after Coldwater rallied in the final points of the third set. Coldwater, ranked second in the first Division III coaches poll, never led in the third set but never trailed by more than four points.
Three times the Cavaliers closed within one down the stretch and three times the Cardinals staved them off, with a long Coldwater serve scuttling the Cavaliers' hopes.
"The game's 24-23 on two occasions and we're not going to get rattled, because we expect to win," Kramer said. "We're confident in who we are and what we need to do."
The Cavaliers were also plagued by issues with the floor in the final two sets, starting when Leugers slipped along the left boundary midway through the third, which resulted in a hitting error that put the Cardinals up for good. New Bremen athletic director Chad Wells and several students came out to mop the floor multiple times and the Cavaliers called for towels, none of which fully solved the issue.
"You don't switch sides anymore because of COVID," coach Etzler said. "Is this side more slippery than that, or is it we're more sweaty? Who knows? You just play the game."
Keying in on the delays, the student section, which had moved en masse to the Coldwater side early in the second set and was raucous all night, started calling for Cavaliers players to check the floors.
"Our student sectionwas obviously our seventh man tonight," Kramer said. "They did a great job."
Midway through the second set, Chloe Bornhorst gave New Bremen its first big advantage with a seven-point service run, the longest by either team all night, that stretched the lead from 6-5 to 12-5 before the Cardinals were whistled for a double-hit. The Cavaliers closed within three at 15-12 and 20-17, but Olivia Heitkamp and Schmitmeyer got kills to stretch the lead back to four.
After Kaylee Freund got a tip shot down to push New Bremen to set point, Leugers got a kill down the left line and Kadance Blockberger served up an ace to delay the win before Freund finished it off with a spike from the middle.
In the first set, it was Etzler who gave Coldwater the tiny edge it needed with a six-point service run with the game tied at 14. Etzler fired two aces and Leugers and Morgan Blasingame got kills to put the Cavaliers ahead 19-14.
After Coldwater went up 22-16, New Bremen scored three straight to cut the lead to three before Leugers recorded a pair of kills and an ace to close out the set.
"They were struggling with serve receive and unable to run their offense, and we were able to run our offense," coach Etzler said. "Then it just flipped. They were able to run their offense because we weren't running our good serve receive."
Etzler finished with four aces and Leugers led Coldwater with 11 kills, with Annelise Harlamert adding 22 assists and 14 digs. Riley Rismiller recorded seven blocks.
Freund led the Cardinals with 11 kills, followed by Schmitmeyer with 10. Chloe Bornhorst added 24 assists, Amelia Dammeyer notched five of New Bremen's 13 aces and Abi Powers finished with 20 digs.
Coldwater gets a chance to get back in the win column on Thursday with a trip to Versailles as New Bremen travels to Parkway.