Knights end volleyball season in second round

Lauren Buchholtz of the Knights hits the ball through an opening in the Houston defense during the Section 1A tournament opener. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland volleyball team saw its season come to an end in the second round of the East Sub-Section 1A tournament last week.

The postseason began with the No. 9 seed Knights at No. 8 seed Houston during a play-in game on Monday night, Oct. 22, with the Knights winning 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-14). With the win, Kingsland took two out of three matches this season against the Hurricanes.

The win earned the Knights a road trip to sub-section No. 1 seed Mabel-Canton on Thursday night, Oct. 25. Kingsland couldn’t mount enough offense to stay with the Cougars, who won the match 3-0 (15-25, 20-25, 18-25) and won all four matches against Kingsland this season. The Knights finish the season at 15-18 overall (8-6 SEC).

Beat Houston 3-0

The Knights opened the East Sub-Section 1A playoffs on the road at Houston (11-10, 8-6 SEC) on Monday night and played one of their most efficient matches of the season, coming out with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-14) win. Knights’ coach Sam Hanley said that may have been their best match of the season.

“Everything went well,” Hanley said. “If we play like that every time out, we’ll be in very good shape. It might be one of the best defensive jobs we’ve ever done, too. We also moved a few things around in the back row to help out serve receive and that’s gotten better as well.

“We also moved things around offensively,” Hanley said. “Ellie Buchholtz spent most of this season at setter, but we moved her to another outside hitter spot and she actually had more kills than her sister (Lauren). Ellie actually went down with a sprained ankle during the tournament in the Twin Cities and Alyssa Link moved into the setter spot and accepted the role really well.”

Ellie Buchholtz led Kingsland (15-17, 8-6 SEC) with 19 kills in the three sets. Her offensive efficiency was great, getting those 19 kills in 30 attempts, with just one error (a sparkling 60 percent). Defensively, she added 1.5 ace blocks and eight digs, plus she went eight of nine at the service line.

Lauren Buchholtz wound up with 12 kills (28 attempts, 42 percent efficiency) while doing a great job defensively. She led the Knights with six ace blocks and tied for the team lead with 12 digs.

However, other players contributed to the win. Jenna Schmidt also wound up with 12 digs, adding one ace block and one ace serve, while going a perfect 12 for 12 serving. Link, a freshman, led the team with 33 of the team’s 34 assists while going a perfect eight for eight, with one ace, at the service line. Nora Jahn led the team with three ace serves, and Taylor Zimmerman went 18 for 19 serving and added two ace serves.

The team had one of its best nights of the season serving the volleyball, going 66 for 70 (94 percent) and getting six aces. The Knights were also very efficient on the attack, getting 34 kills in 78 attempts, against just four errors (a very good 38 percent efficiency).

The Kingsland defense played well in both the back row and at the net. The back row came up with 50 digs in the three sets, including seven digs from Link. The front-row defense had six of the seven Knights in the stat sheet come up with at least one block. Ellie Buchholtz, Link, and Shelby Beck each contributed 1.5 blocks.

Lost to M-C 3-0

The Knights moved on to play the sub-section’s No. 1 seed, Mabel-Canton (28-5, 15-0 SEC), in a Thursday night road match. Kingsland couldn’t get a consistent attack going and wound up falling to the Cougars by a 3-0 score (15-25, 20-25, 18-25). The Knights played well at times against the Cougars but fell to 0-4 this season against Mabel-Canton.

Outside of Lauren and Ellie Buchholtz, the Knights didn’t have much in the way of offense. The two Buchholtz sisters finished with a combined 24 of the team’s 26 kills. Lauren and Ellie each had 12 kills apiece. Ellie Buchholtz led the team with 15 digs in the back row, also going a perfect 13 for 13 at the line and getting the team’s only two ace serves of the night. Lauren Buchholtz chipped in 12 digs and went six for six serving.

Jahn went 10 of 11 serving, adding one kill, one ace block, and three digs. Shelby Beck led the front row with 3.5 ace blocks. Jenna Schmidt was versatile on defense, getting 2.5 ace blocks and was second on the team with 13 digs.

The Knights went 50 of 54 serving, but only came away with just the two ace serves from Ellie Buchholtz. Offensively, the 26 kills came in 122 attacks, alongside 18 errors (7 percent efficiency). Defensively, the Knights had 7.5 ace blocks and a total of 50 digs against M-C hitting.

Looking ahead

As the season comes to a close, the Knights will say goodbye to several seniors, including All-SEC hitter Lauren Buchholtz. Other seniors who’ve played their last volleyball game at Kingsland High School include Taylor Zimmerman, Nora Jahn, Jenna Schmidt, Hailey Westphal, and Rachel Hansen.

That still leaves potentially eight players that’ll return next season for the Knights, several of which have extensive varsity experience. Ellie Buchholtz returns with varsity success at the setter and outside hitter positions. Alyssa Link is back after taking over the setter role full-time late in the season after Buchholtz was switched to the outside. Shelby Beck also played significant minutes and contributed as a middle hitter.