Knights Keep Nine-Year Streak Alive

Senior Bryce McDaniel Looks on as a play unfolds in the background (Shannon Lane)

The FHN boys volleyball team has not beaten the De Smet Spartans since April 7, 2008.

I repeat: The Knights had not defeated the Spartans in nine consecutive meetings, dating back to early April of 2008 and spanning eight seasons, prior to their match at FHN on Monday, March 27.

The last time these teams met, the Spartans ousted the Knights from the State Quarterfinals, winning that match 26-24 and 25-22 in straight sets on May 16, 2016.

Needless to say, there was an added intensity to this match that made it more meaningful than most early-season, non-league matches.

“Last year in the Quarterfinals was a tough loss,” senior libero Jake Oppenborn said, “and this year, we all wanted to show that we were a good team, that we were better than them and that we could beat them since we haven’t won one in a while.”

The first set began with dominance on the part of the Spartans and junior Gage Mize, who leads the Metro Catholic District in kills with 13 entering the contest. De Smet took a 10-3 lead before first-year head coach Robin Yuede called FHN’s first timeout.

“Communication was key,” Yuede said. “There was no communication. We just did not talk very well to each other. There were people playing more like individuals than like teammates. You have to have six people playing together, and we did not have that tonight.”

The Knights retained their poor communication throughout the first set, and, outside of an 11-3 run to make the score look more respectable, FHN handed over the first set easily to the visitors, 25-21.

“[The beginning of the second set] felt good,” Oppenborn said. “At that time, we were all playing to the best of our abilities – talking, communicating, playing with a lot of energy. It was really fun playing with the lead, but eventually, we stopped communicating, and that’s what lost it for us.”

After going back and forth with the first 16 points of the second set, Oppenborn and Co. took control, pushing their lead to 14-10. The set remained even from there on, with the next stoppage being a Spartan timeout with the scoreboard reading 19-16 in favor of the home team.

Three straight Spartan points forced the Knights to use a timeout with the set tied at 19.

It was the beginning of the end for FHN.

“It was at point 19,” Oppenborn said. “We were out of rotation and lost a couple of points, and that’s where it was really downhill. We couldn’t pick it back up.”

The final eight points of the match were earned in the following order: FHN, De Smet, FHN, De Smet, De Smet, De Smet, De Smet, De Smet.

A 25-21 set win for the Spartans. A 2-0 match win. A now-10-game winning streak against FHN.

“It’s disappointing to lose,” Yude said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love winning, but if we were getting better, I’d be okay with it. Tonight was a step backwards, and it was hard. They’re coming off of spring break. They’re coming off their first day back to school. So it doesn’t bother me too much; I just wish we’d played better.”

 

Watch the entire match in the video below. The Knights (now 1-2) hope to return to a .500 record against FZW on Thursday, March 30 at 6 p.m.

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