Sidney senior Mattie Johnson pounded down 20 kills to lead the No. 5 (Omaha World Herald) Red Raiders to a 25-11, 25-15, 25-14 sweep of Scottsbluff on Tuesday night at Scottsbluff High School.
The win improved Sidney to 15-2 on the season with its only losses coming to Class C-2 top-ranked Hastings St. Cecilia (16-1) and Class B No. 2-rated Waverly (16-0). The loss drops Scottsbluff to 3-10.
Sidney head coach Marcus Ehrke said his team’s top priority coming into Tuesday’s match with Scottsbluff was consistency in all aspects of the match.
“Our number one goal tonight was to be consistent,” he said. “Play consistent sets one through three, four, five. Hopefully it wouldn’t get to that point, but we wanted to play consistent from the start. I think we got up 5-0 or 6-0 in the first set and I think that kind of set the tone for us throughout the course of the night, so I was pleased with our play and how consistent we played.”
Scottsbluff head coach Leslie Foral said that aside of Sidney being a fundamentally sound team, the Bearcats need to sew up some little things as the season draws closer to the Twin City Invite coming up on Friday.
“I knew they were going to be a good team and I knew they were going to be fundamentally sound,” she said. “Mattie Johnson, obviously on the outside, she was a big contributor for them tonight. But talking about our play, that’s something that we’ve really focused on. There’s a lot of little things you don’t realize that kind of add up to the big picture. So, it’s just trying to put those little things into play in a game. To hopefully in the end kind of help us out a little bit, but right now we’re just not doing them.”
Sidney didn’t waste any time showing its power to the Bearcat crowd as Logan Holly rattled off six-consecutive service points right out of the gate. Scottsbluff managed to keep pace until midway through the frame, down just 14-10 until Johnson turned up the heat with six kills to finish off a 10-1 run to win the first set. Junior Karly Sylvester collected three ace serves during the run to put the Red Raiders up 1-0.
Scottsbluff found itself in an early hole to start set two after falling behind 10-3 to the high-powered Raider offense. Emma Foote pointed on a setter dump midway through the match to spark a three-point run to cut the deficit to 18-10, but Sidney tallied seven of the next 11 points in the set to win the game 25-15 and go up 2-0 in the match.
The Bearcats clawed away at the Red Raiders in the third set, keeping pace and trailing just 10-7 early on. However, a kill by Holly and a pair of aces by Sarah Wamsley ignited to outscore the Bearcats 13-8 in the final stretch and capture the 25-14 set and 3-0 win.
Ehrke, whose Raiders have won nine of their last 10 matches, said that he was pleased with where his team is at this point of the season and hopes to finish on a strong note.
“Right now I’m pretty pleased with where we’re at,” he said. “Hopefully we’re heading in the right direction with Twin Cities, conference and sub-districts rolling around.”
Foral believes Sidney’s momentum started early on and kept increasing throughout the match, taking the Bearcats out of their game plan and making it hard to get back into system.
“Right out of the gate serve receive was something that kind of hurt us,” she said. “We were not able to get into system and then it kind of mentally played a part. And then, just from then on out, the serving and the aggressive offense that they had just kind of took us out of our game.”
Sidney finished the night with 14 ace serves and 38 kills. Along with Johnson, Holly had a good night at the service line with seven ace serves, while collecting seven kills in the match.
Scottsbluff was paced by Foote, who finished with five kills and a block assist. Gracee Michael added three ace serves, while Emma Herman finished with two kills, Josie Amoo had a kill and a block assist, and Izzy Wright had a kill. Cali Wright also finished with an ace serve.
Both teams will next be in action on Friday when they play in the Twin City Invite at Scottsbluff High School and Gering High School.