Yuma volleyball moves on with tough schedule
It is a long season, but already the Yuma High School volleyball team seems to be making progress.
The Indians responded from a rough performance in a season-opening loss at Sedgwick County earlier last week with much-better execution in taking out the Pine Bluffs Hornets in straight sets, last Friday in the Tribe’s home opener.
“Hopefully Friday is more like what we are,” head coach Jenny Noble said, particularly pointing out the Indians rallied late in the third set to pull out the sweep. “I thought that was a good sign to me. It is definitely a step in the right direction.”
The challenges keep coming, though.
The Indians, ranked No. 6 in this week’s Class 2A Top 10 (CHSAANow.com polls), traveled to Imperial, Nebraska, this past Tuesday to play an always-tough Chase County squad.
It did not go well as they were dominated in three sets by the Longhorns, 25-11, 25-19, 25-23, dropping to 1-2 on the season.
They host Class 3A Brush today, September 12, host No. 2 Limon on Saturday afternoon, and travel to Burlington on Tuesday.
“We’ve got some tough ones,” Noble said.
The coach said the Indians had 40 offensive errors earlier last week in the season opener, meaning 40 of Sedgwick County’s 75 points in the match came courtesy of Yuma miscues.
“We have all the control over those things,” she said, adding that ball control always is a focus, but was even more so after the opener.
Pine Bluffs came to town last week undefeated and ranked No. 1 in its classification in Wyoming.
However, the Indians mostly controlled the match from start to finish in the 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 win.
The Indians fell behind 10-6 in the first set, but some nice hustle and strong hits sparked them to a 10-1 run for a 16-11 lead. Pine Bluffs pulled within two, with Noble calling a timeout leading 18-16, but the Indians held on from there for the win.
Yuma built an 8-6 lead in the second set, and maintained control to get the win.
It appeared Pine Bluffs might force a fourth set as the Hornets took a 20-17 lead in the third. However, the new-look Indians showed some resiliency to battle back for the 25-22 win to get the sweep.
“Friday was much better,” Noble said. “It was a little nerve-wracking because you’re thinking ‘was Tuesday a fluke, or is that what we really are?’”
The Indians were improved at the service line, serving 90 percent after being at 82 percent at Sedgwick County. Lainey Mekelburg was 16-17 with three aces, Gisele Gutierrez 12-13, Elle Roth 11-13 with two aces, Reagan Nolin 8-10 with two aces, Steph Sauer 7-7, Ema Richardson 7-8, and Shelby Blach 5-5. Richardson led at the net with 12 kills, while Roth had eight, Sauer seven, and Gutierrez three. Nolin had 26 setting assists, and Mekelburg four.
Making the season-opening loss a bit more painful was that it also was a Lower Platte Activities Association match. Their next league match is September 19 at home against Akron. Noble said the Indians definitely will need some help to win a sixth-straight league title, but it’s still possible.
“We just need to keep going,” she said, adding” if league champs is our goal, then maybe we’re not right for Yuma volleyball.”
Noble instead is encouraged by the 2A postseason format which qualifies the top 36 teams in the Ratings Percentage Index for regional, with 12 advancing out of that to the state tournament.
“At least if we can get to regional, we have a chance,” she said. “We might not be hosting it, but at least there’s some avenue for getting to state. Hopefully, we’ll be better at the right time.”
They had a tough time in Imperial, Nebraska, on Tuesday, however, losing 25-11, 25-19, 25-23.
Sauer and Roth both had eight kills, Richardson seven and Gutierrez two. Nolin had 26 setting assists. Nolin and Richardson led in digs with 14 and 11. Richardson was 11-12 serving, Mekelburg 9-0 with two aces, Sauer 9-9 with one ace, Nolin 7-9, Roth 7-9, Gutierrez 4-4 and Tannah Gates 2-2.