By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Warriors nearly knocked off
Times photo: Adam Krebs Kim Wellnitz goes up for a spike while Albanys Sydney Bump looks to block in the second game of Black Hawks five-game win on Tuesday night.
SOUTH WAYNE - The streak continues for Black Hawk.

Top contender, Albany, took a 2-0 lead before the Warriors came back to win in five games, 20-25, 14-25, 25-16, 25-13, 15-12. Black Hawk (10-0 Six Rivers East) has clinched its fourth straight conference title and look to complete its third straight undefeated conference season with just two games left.

"We weren't playing to our potential. Once we got focused we stepped it up," Warriors senior Kim Wellnitz said. "Playing with the this team the last three years and winning conference is awesome. To get my fourth in my fourth year on varsity feels so great."

Albany, filled with five juniors, three seniors and a sophomore, jumped out on fire, taking the first seven points of the contest off the serve of junior Kaitlyn Schulz, including two blocks. What may have been even more impressive was the Comets ability to dig balls and cover the court. Five players had over 25 digs in the contest, and four had over 30.

"I thought we played really well. We had lots and lots of digs," Comets coach Connie Wunschel said.

Black Hawk crawled back, bringing the score to 20-19 before Albany finished Game 1 on a 4-1 run.

In the second game, the Comets again came out swinging. With junior Hillary Best serving, Albany took a 10-1 lead. After Black Hawk brought the score back to 12-8, the Comets went on another run, 13-5, to closed out the game.

The Warriors, as well as the over-capacity crowd, had the look of frustration and panic between the second and third games.

"It was getting frustrating. Nothing was going our way," Wellnitz said. "I told the girls in the huddle before the third game that we've won three games before."

Both teams played dead even in the third game, before the Warriors went on an 11-4 run to take a 23-13 advantage. Moments later, Wellnitz sent down a kill that brought some confidence back to the Warrior faithful on Senior Night.

"I knew that if we just settled down and played our game we could come back and win," Black Hawk head coach Rachel Wolff said. "(We) realized that it was working when we settled down, controlled the pace and controlled the ball."

In Game 4, it was the Warriors who jumped out ahead, posting a 7-2 lead early thanks to a few timely kills and some miscommunication between Comets players.

"Once we started getting down, the girls knew that they had to start doing something to come back. That's when they starting making mistakes. You can see it in all the young girls' faces," Wunschel said.

After a Sydney Bump kill for a side out, Albany looked as if it would sneak back into the game. Bump then rattled off back-to-back aces, bringing the score to 10-8 in favor of Black Hawk.

But a dig save at the net by Melissa Wellnitz dropped just over the net to give the Warriors a side out. Senior Katie Place picked up a big block and a tap kill for the next two points and a few Comet miscues later, and Black Hawk led 17-8.

"Both teams wanted to win and we knew we had to get something done. I love all my senior girls and it was great to honor them (by scoring)," Place said.

Neither team has played match of such importance all season, and Wellnitz knew the time was now or never.

"I told the girls that they wanted it too. They won two games and got all excited, we won two and got all excited - no one wants to lose," she said. "We need to keep the momentum and play well as a team."

After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, the Warriors found themselves down 6-5. A deep serve by Bump tied the score, and Place followed with two kills and a block. With Black Hawk ahead 14-12, a spike kill by junior Rachel Rygh sent the crowd into a frenzy.

"This was a great win - a super win. This is the kind of match we're looking for at the end of the season," Wolff said. "We need challenges like this because we're not done yet. We want to go far in the tournament."

Kim Wellnitz led the Warriors with 16 kills. Senior Nicole Kloepfer had seven kills and 15 assists.

For Albany, Bump had 16 kills, two blocks, three aces and 34 digs. Tamiya Sandlin led the Comets with 44 digs, Clare Koopmans had 38, Best had 31 and Schulz had 25. Courtney Pfeuti had 30 assists. Best also had two aces and 10 kills, and Schulz had three aces and two blocks.