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HAWKS WILL TAKE IT

SH spikers inconsistent, but poised down the stretch in 4-set win over Saydel

South Hamilton outside hitter Mackenzy Grady lets out a scream in celebration following a kill in the fourth set against Saydel Monday night in Jewell. The Hawks claimed a 3-1 HOIC victory over the Eagles. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

JEWELL — What’s better: a hard-fought, valiant loss or an ugly victory? That’s a no-brainer.

Go with ugly every single time.

That’s what the South Hamilton volleyball team was left with Monday evening after it breathed a sigh of relief on Senior Night. Despite a flood of errors and erratic play from set to set, the Hawks were able to capture their first win since Sept. 10, 3-1, over Heart of Iowa Conference rival Saydel.

South Hamilton (8-16, 1-1 HOIC) won by scores of 25-17, 25-16, 23-25, 25-20.

“We started out pretty strong in the first two sets, especially with a confusing lineup for Senior Night to start with, but we kind of lost our momentum and fire in the third set,” South Hamilton head coach Kayla Schaufenbuel said. “We just expected to win, but they were a scrappy team and didn’t let many balls hit the floor.”

South Hamilton’s Jessica Woodall goes low to bump up a serve during the opening set against Saydel on Monday in Jewell. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Saydel (2-15, 0-5 HOIC) dropped its 13th consecutive match. The Eagles entered the night winners of just six of 41 sets on the season and had lost 12 in a row dating back to Sept. 12.

South Hamilton’s struggles began early, as it fell behind 8-1 in the opening set before it righted the ship. The Hawks were able to draw even at 14 behind a 6-0 run on the serve of Jessica Woodall and they wouldn’t trail again until midway through the third set.

South Hamilton accumulated just five kills against nine attack errors in the first set, but offset the miscues with four blocks and four aces.

Three kills from Caleigh Hewitt in the second set helped South Hamilton cruise. It scored the initial six points and never allowed Saydel to get closer than four the remainder of the way.

An early lead in the third set turned out to be fool’s gold, as the Hawks struggled after Saydel caught up at 8-all. It was knotted at 20 when the Eagles gained the upper hand and forced a fourth set.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“We got complacent and didn’t play up to our level,” Schaufenbuel said. “We were almost too relaxed, and all the things we did right in the first two sets, we didn’t do that in the third set.”

Saydel led as late as 17-16 in the fourth set when South Hamilton buckled down. A kill by Zoey Duns from the middle of the court forced a tie at 17 and two points later Paige Evans sprinkled in an ace.

Back-to-back kills by Mackenzy Grady increased the Hawks’ lead to 22-19, and a Trista Strohman ace gave them their first match point. Moments later, Saydel smacked the ball into the middle of the net to give South Hamilton a Senior Night win.

“It was great to see the girls come back and finish because we definitely didn’t want to go five sets, and you could tell they were relieved to be done too,” Schaufenbuel said. “The win is great, especially on Senior Night. You want to win it for them.”

South Hamilton had 21 kills in the bout, including a team-high seven from the right arm of Hewitt. Grady finished with four, while Woodall and Duns had three each.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The Hawks were back at home last night to host 12th-ranked (Class 3A) Roland-Story.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

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