NORTH VERNON — It took five marathon matches, but Jennings County volleyball coach Sue Kinney finally notched a career victory againstsmall-school power Hauser.
The Panthers jumped ahead 2-0, but found themselves battling in a fifth-set finale more than two hours later after the visiting Jets rallied back to knot action at two games apiece. In fact, Hauser was just one point away from clinching Tuesday’s action before Kinney’s squad bolted back to grab the season opener for both teams.
When the dust had cleared, Jennings County had pulled out a 25-20, 25-21, 22-25, 19-25, 17-15 triumph.
“That’s the first time in my four years coaching here we’ve beaten Hauser,” Kinney said. “Jeff Case always has his teams prepared.”
The evening featured a mixed bag of highlights and lowlights, as both squads thrilled the crowd with long rallies, finger-tip digs and wood-smashing kills only to be followed with unforced errors on both offense and defense.
“That inconsistency is a sign of it being a season-opener,” Case said. “We played well at times and thought we might even complete the comeback, but they pulled it out.”
The Panthers were paced by the hard-hitting Emily Ertel, who finished with 20 kills, while senior Monica Barringer (20 digs) and junior Emma Campbell (four blocks) added key plays.
It was Ertel’s back-to-back kills that tied the action late in the final game and Campbell’s block at the net that clinched it.
Jennings County also got strong play from Kyleigh Nelson and Mariah Kinney (nine kills), while Dani Kirchner (28 digs) played solid at the libero position.
The Jets, meanwhile, countered with the inside force from 6-foot-2 senior Lauren Gross (21 kills), who seemed to match Ertel blow by blow. Danielle Sneed (10 kills) and Haley Webster (seven kills) also played strong, along with the freshman trio of Maranda Knight, Maclyn Greenlee and libero Danielle Giles (24 digs).
Mikala Greenlee had 26 assists. Makayla Knight served four aces.
“I saw a lot of good things out there and some things we’ll have to work on,” Case said. “We’ve got a lot of youth on this team so it will take some time but we’ll get better.”
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