Before Tuesday night, Minden’s 8-2 record may have deceived some folks.
But following two wins over a pair of top 10 Class B schools, the Whippets, now 10-2, proved it’s no fluke.
Class C-1 Minden knocked off Aurora and host Adams Central, sweeping both of the bigger schools in impressive fashion.
The Whippets took down the Huskies 25-22, 25-20, and Patriots 25-21, 25-23.
Both wins showcased Minden’s serving, which as a smaller team in terms of height is how it has to go, according to head coach Julie Ratka.
“That’s our top priority,” Ratka said. “We work on it every day in just different situations. I thought we really hit our spots well and we served tough. We talked about that in both games. We have to serve tough or we will struggle because both of those teams are great teams and they hit the ball really well. And if we don’t serve tough, we’re outmatched.”
It was quite the contrary at times, actually. Minden looked overpowering in stints during both matches.
The Whippets’ defense proved difficult to find the floor against.
Libero Bailey Rogers racked up 30 digs in the back row between the two matches, 17 in the nightcap against the slumping Patriots (6-4).
“We dug some balls that we haven’t been digging tonight,” Ratka said. “Bailey Rogers is top-notch. We are not the same team (without her). I thought the other teams served her more than I thought they would and she was money tonight.”
Mattie Kamery totaled 17 kills in the four sets, with nine coming against Aurora in the opener.
Perhaps the most impressive thing Minden did, though, was play, by the book, a flawless first set against Adams Central.
The Whippets allowed the Patriots 21 points, but none came via an error.
“For us, that’s unheard of,” Ratka said. “We’ve been fighting errors, especially at the beginning. So, we’ve been trying to limit those things.”
Adams Central scored 17 kills, three blocks and an ace serve in their opening set with Minden, yet lost 25-21.
That was just another hard-to-swallow aspect of the Patriots’ effort Tuesday.
“That’s the stuff that keeps you up at night,” said AC head coach Libby Lollman, who might have nightmares about the Patriots’ twin losses.
AC won the first set against Aurora in dominating fashion — 25-14 — before losing the second 30-28 and third 25-21.
The Patriots reinforced a 16-5 lead in set one and overcame a 20-11 deficit in game two to force extra points with the Huskies, a Central Conference rival.
“When you talk about it, in the Aurora game, you play such a good first set and if you turn around and win 30-28, it’s all about ‘how did you find a way to pull it out?’ and ‘what great things.’ But when you don’t, you start looking at the negatives when there are so many positives,” Lollman said.
But, as Lollman and her Patriots know all too well at this point in the season. games aren’t played to 21. The almighty 25 has evaded AC too often through 10 games, four of the last five being losses.
“You earned 21 points, but the end of the match you’ve got to find a way to win it,” Lollman said. “That’s what matters. That’s the mental part.”
After dropping four straight sets to end the night, Lollman gave a lengthy address to her team in the locker room. The message focused on mental strength.
“When we think of our four losses this year, how many have been by two points? And how do we overcome that?” Lollman said. “It’s just that mental part that we’ve got to get a little bit better at. It’s playing to win, not to lose, and it’s kind of been the same locker room talk since last Tuesday. We’ve got great girls and they want to win, but you’ve got to work for it and you’ve got to earn it.”
AUR (5-5)...............................................14 30 25
AC (6-3)..................................................25 28 21
Kirsten Jensen 0-1-0, Aleah Vinkenberg 8-1-0, Rachel Hunter 8-0-0, Delaney Nachtigal 9-0-0, Lexi Jones 9-1-0, Madie Stevenson 1-0-3, Kasey Schuester 1-1-0. Totals: 36-4-3.
Adams Central (kills-aces-blocks)
Hannah Gengenbach 3-0-0, Jessica Babcock 10-0-0, Chelsey Wiseman 3-0-0, Megyn Scott 9-3-1/2, Gabby Feeney 2-0-0, Lauryn Scott 8-0-1/2, Rachel Goodon 5-0-3, Emma Estrada 2-0-0, Gracie Weichman 0-2-0. Totals: 42-5-4.
Assists — A, Schuester 33, Jensen 1, Vinkenberg 1, Hunter 1. AC, Wiseman 20, Feeney 8, L. Scott 5, Babcock 4, Goodon 1, Estrada 1, Gannon 1.
AUR (5-6)....................................................22 20
MIN (9-2)....................................................25 25
Kirsten Jensen 0-0-0, Aleah Vinkenberg 6-1-0, Rachel Hunter 5-0-1, Delaney Nachtigal 2-0-0, Lexi Jones 5-0-0, Madie Stevenson 5-0-0, Kasey Schuester 2-2-1. Totals: 25-3-2.
Bailey Rogers 0-2-0, Maylee Kamery 6-2-0, Halle Space 1-3-0, Keitan Bienhoff 0-1-0, Mattie Kamery 8-1-0, Milly Jacobsen 2-0-0, Sloane Becck 7-0-1, Mariah Lempka 1-0-0, Brianna Kuehn 2-0-0. Totals: 27-9-1.
MIN (10-2)..................................................25 25
AC (6-4)......................................................21 23
Bailey Rogers 0-0-0, Maylee Kamery 4-0-0, Keitan Bienhoff 0-1-0, Mattie Kamery 11-0-0, Halle Space 1-3-0, Milly Jacobsen 1-0-1, Sloane Beck 4-1-1, Mariah Lempka 2-0-2, Brianna Kuehn 1-0-0. Totals: 24-5-4.
Adams Central (kills-aces-blocks)
Hannah Gengenbach 2-0-0, Jessica Babcock 6-1-2, Chelsey Wiseman 1-0-0, Megyn Scott 10-0-0, Lauryn Scott 6-0-3 1/2, Rachel Goodon 2-0-1/2, Emma Estrada 2-0-0. Totals: 29-1-6.
Assists — M, Space 14, Mat. Kamery 4, Kinsie Land 2, Jacobsen 1, Rogers 1, Beck 1. AC, Wiseman 19, Feeney 8, Jady Gannon 1.