QUINCY, Ill. — Forced to call a timeout with the first set of Tuesday night's match knotted at 16, Hannibal volleyball coach Megan Phillips noticed no sense of panic or worry from the Pirates.
“They were all like, 'We've got this. We can do this,'” Phillips said. “They were encouraging each other.”
Such confidence and a dynamic job serving left Quincy Notre Dame surprisingly flabbergasted.
“It was a different speed of game than what we're used to and I think that kind of flustered us a little bit,” QND senior libero Izzie Anderson said. “But we fought back and did what we had to do to win it.”
That was to turn to their incredible firepower and size at the net.
Sydney Hummert and Meredith Siebers finished the first set with a kill and block, respectively, and Hummert had kills for three of QND's final five points in the second set of a 25-21, 25-22 victory at the Pit.
“If we get a good pass, we know it's going to be a good set and that means we'll get a kill,” Hummert said. “We believe that.”
The Raiders also believe they'll benefit from being pushed.
“I think we needed a challenge,” Hummert said. “That helps us expose our flaws and will make us better.”
In this case, the struggles passing were exposed.
“They were serving really well and it was putting a lot of pressure on our passers,” QND coach Courtney Kvitle said. “That's how they manipulated us and stuck with us because we didn't pass very well tonight.
“Like I always say, if you can pass and serve, most likely you'll win the game. They just had really good service.”
It actually put the Pirates in control of the first set.
Bella Falconer recorded back-to-back aces as part of a five-point run that gave Hannibal a 10-5 lead. QND methodically whittled the deficit back to even at 16-16 and finally took the lead at 20-18 on the second of Abbey Schreacke's two aces in a three-point run.
Two mistakes — a hitting attempt that went wide and a net violation — kept the Pirates within two before Hummert's kill and Siebers' block ended it.
“Whenever we make an error, we have to be able to shake it off and play the next play,” Anderson said.
That resolve was tested in the second set. Hummert scored four points off her serve as the Raiders opened up 6-1, but the Pirates plugged away with Falconer's kill pulling them within 12-10 and her tip a few points later putting Hannibal ahead 15-14.
That's when the Raiders turned to their attack to finish things.
Taylor Keck's kill tied the set at 18 and QND's final seven points of the match came on kills with Hummert collecting four, Schreacke two and Siebers one.
Hummert finished with 12 kills, two aces and eight digs, while Siebers had four kills and 11 digs and Maddie Peters had 23 assists.
“Without games like this, we wouldn't be ready for the postseason,” Hummert said. “This helps.”
Phillips thought so, too. She saw the progression from three losses last weekend at the Rockwood Summit Tournament and saw the confidence grow with the way the Pirates competed.
“We learned a lot down there about defense and where we needed to be,” said Phillips, who got six kills, three aces and 12 digs from Bella Falconer and eight assists, two aces and five digs from Kaylee Falconer. “You saw some of those things carry over against a really good Quincy Notre Dame team.”
Kvitle hopes for similar carryover.
“I think our girls broke down mentally a little bit,” Kvitle said. “That's part of our sport. Everything goes so fast you don't have time to breath sometimes. That kind of got the best of us tonight, but I'm proud because they worked through it and still came out on top.
“That proves to me they are mentally tough and getting tougher as the season goes along. These are the kind of matches we're going to be playing at the end of year and you have to know how to play.”