By STEVE CARPENTER - Hutchinson CC Sports Information
Held to just four kills over the first three sets, leading hitter Jenna Thorne came to life when the Hutchinson Community College Volleyball Team needed her to.
Down 2 sets to 1 in its Blue Dragon Classic match against Mineral Area College, Hutchinson's leading hitter tallied eight kills and three blocks over the final two sets to help the Blue Dragons rally for a five-set victory over the Cardinals.
Hutchinson won its fifth match in a row after a 25-21, 20-25, 20-25, 25-18, 15-7 victory over the Cardinals. This was Hutchinson's second five-set win this season as the Blue Dragons improved to 11-5 overall.
The Blue Dragons were supposed to play Jefferson College in the final match of the day, but Jefferson was forced to pull out of Saturday's matches. The Blue Dragons are next in action on Tuesday when they play host to Colby in a Jayhawk West weather make-up at 6 p.m. at the Sports Arena.
With the victory, Hutchinson finished undefeated in its home tournament for the first time since 2013.
After winning the first set, the Blue Dragons hit just .032 in the second and third sets combined and Mineral Area built a 2-1 match lead. Thorne was held to her lowest kill total through three sets all season.
That started to change in the fourth. Thorne had two kills and a block assist in an early 10-3 surge to start the fourth set. Her solo block late in the set stopped a 4-1 Mineral Area surge to give Hutch a 22-17 lead. The Dragons won 3 of the final 4 rallies to win 25-18 and force a fifth set.
Thorne took over in the fifth set with four kills and a solo block in a decisive 6-1 run that propelled Hutchinson to a 9-3 lead. The Blue Dragons sided out four-straight times to close out the Cardinals 15-7.
Thorne hit just .147 for the match with 12 kills and six errors on 34 swings. She hit .444 on her eight kills over the final two sets. Thorne had her third double-double of the Classic and 11th of the season with 11 digs and four total blocks, including two solo blocks.
Freshman Shadee Briggs had a match-high 16 kills on .289 hitting. She posted her second double-double of the weekend and fifth of the season with 18 digs. Briggs added three aces. She had four kills and a pair of aces in the fourth set.
The Blue Dragons out-blocked Mineral Area 16-5 and had eight service aces.
Alayna Rooks had 14 kills and Kaylee Portel had 12 digs to lead Mineral Area.
The first set had 14 ties and 10 lead changes. Hutchinson led 17-15, but the Cardinals scored three in a row to take a one-point lead. Murrell tied it at 18 with a kill. The next seven rallies were all sideouts. Kristina Head had a kill to tie the set at 21. The Dragons scored the final five points of the set for a 20-21 win, the final two points coming on Briggs' kills.
Hutch led the second set 13-12 before the Cardinals took charge with a 6-0 run. With Mineral Area leading 20-14, the Dragons scored five-straight points, capped by a Price setter dump to pull within 20-19. Mineral Area scored 5 of the final 6 points of the set to even the match at 1-1.
Mineral Area built a 19-11 lead in the third set. The Blue Dragons climbed back into the set with a six-service run by Reeder, who had two aces in the run, to pull Hutchinson within 19-17. Mineral Area answered with three straight points and won the set 25-20 to lead the match 2-1.
Myracle Lettries had a solo block to cap a 7-1 Hutchinson start in the fourth set. Murrell's kill made it 10-3, but the Cardinals answered that surge with four-straight points to pull within 10-7 and Mineral Area eventually tied the set at 13 on a Blue Dragon attack error. A Briggs' kill then started a run of seven-straight point. The Dragons had three of their six fourth-set blocks during that run to lead 20-13. After the Cardinals pulled within 21-17, Thorne's solo block started a set-clinching 4-1 run to win 25-18, knotting the match at 2-all.
Mineral Area scored the first two points of the fifth set, but on Dragon attack errors. Thorne then exploded to give Hutch a 9-3 lead. In addition to Thorne's four kills and solo block, Reeder recorded her third ace of the match and a Head/Lettries double block gave Hutch a 9-3 lead. The Dragons didn't let Mineral Area back into the match with four-straight side-out opportunities. The Dragons held Mineral Area to only two kills in the final set.