Have a little Faith: Kientzle’s run of service points, huge plays at net catapult Raiders to victory over Bombers in electric sectional title match


The Quincy Notre Dame volleyball players turn to the QND student cheering section after receiving the Class 2A Farmington Sectional championship plaque following a three-set victory over Macomb on Wednesday night in Farmington, Ill. | Matt Schuckman photo

FARMINGTON, Ill. — Five points. No more. Certainly no less.

Forced to a decisive third set in Wednesday night’s Class 2A Farmington Sectional championship after Macomb staved off four match points, Quincy Notre Dame volleyball coach Courtney Kvitle convinced the Raiders to concentrate on winning five points at a time.

“We knew we had to play five sets to five. It wasn’t one set to 25,” QND senior middle hitter Abbey Schreacke said. “First one to five, first one to 10 and just keep going. That makes it easier breaking it down into little segments. We don’t get too much in our head then.”

There was one other ask the Raider had of each other.

Show a little faith.

They most assuredly had that.

QND was the first to five to open the third set, going ahead 5-4 on Annie Eaton’s kill that sent Raiders senior libero Faith Kientzle to the service line. Eight consecutive points and two burned Macomb timeouts later, QND had complete control and rode out a 25-16, 25-27, 25-12 victory to move on to the elite eight for the second consecutive season.

“It’s unbelievable,” Kientzle said. “It’s a feeling you want to feel all the time. It’s just amazing. I never want this feeling to go away.”

The Raiders (34-3) will have to turn the page rather quickly as a showdown with Genoa-Kingston in the Princeton Super-Sectional looms at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The Cogs (34-5) won the Winnebago Sectional with a 25-11, 25-23 victory over Rock Falls.

The winner of that match heads to the Class 2A final four at Redbird Arena in Normal.

“We’re locked in more than we were at this time last year,” Schreacke said. “More determined and more prepared.”

The Raiders have a blueprint for how they need to play, too.

“We have to take this energy from the first and third sets and carry that with us,” said junior outside hitter Emma Hoing, who led QND with 15 kills and seven aces.

The combination of Eaton’s larger-than-life play at the net, the booming swings of Schreacke and Hoing and Kientzle’s accuracy with her serve made the pivotal run and the growing electricity possible.

“I went back there, took a deep breath and said to myself, ‘I have to do this for my team,’” Kientzle said. “I knew it was important to get the ball over. I think they can trust me with that now, knowing I’m consistent with my serves.”

Following Eaton’s quick kill for the sideout, Hoing and Schreacke delivered kills — Hoing hit one off a block and Schreacke powered one off a defender — before Macomb called a timeout. Out of the break, Eaton stuffed Macomb’s Taylor Adair at the net for a point before Schreacke blocked the Bombers’ Kennedy Adair on consecutive swings.

Points on consecutive swings by Schreacke and Hoing and a dunk by Eaton made it 12-4, forcing Macomb to call another timeout.

“I knew I could probably catch them on their heels if I went up and dunked one,” Eaton said.

Kientzle came out of the timeout and delivered an ace for her eighth consecutive point.

“(QND assistant coach Jason Leindecker) pulled me aside and said, ‘It’s just me and you. Focus on your serve. Tone everything out,’” Kientzle said. “That’s what I did. I went to the back line, took a deep breath and focused on my serve and just got it over.”

It was over for the Bombers at that point, too, all because the Raiders were the first to five in that final set and stuck to that game plan.

“It gives us a little boost and a little more ‘We can do this,’” Eaton said. “The first to five, the first to 10 and so on. It really helps us stay in the moment and not get ahead of ourselves.”

It’s the way they played in the first set as well, going up 6-3 on back-to-back aces by Schreacke and racing to a 16-5 lead behind Hoing’s right arm.

The junior outside hitter’s kill forced a sideout and sent her to the service line, where she rattled off seven consecutive points that included four aces. The Bombers battled back within three points, but the Raiders scored eight of the final nine points to win the first set.

“We know Macomb is a good team and can come back at anytime,” QND junior defensive specialist Delaney Beard said. “Honestly, we knew we had to keep the pedal to the metal, and once we started going on a run, we had to keep the momentum.”

Some of that momentum faded in the second set, even though the Raiders led 24-21 before the Bombers staved off three consecutive match points. QND went ahead 25-24 before Macomb’s Kathryn Lukkarinen tied it with a kill, and the Bombers scored the next two points to force a third set.

“We went to the huddle and we just told each other we were going to fight and we were going to play for each other and we were going to win this game together,” Eaton said.

They simply had to do it five points at a time.

“It just lets everyone take a breath,” Schreacke said. “Even if we’re not up, we still have each other’s back. But it’s just a big help to get the lead.”

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