ADAMS - The Mead Volleyball team did one of the harder things in the sport this past week, winning five matches over a three day period to become the champions of the 2021 Freeman Invite. During that stretch, the Raiders defeated Freeman, Johnson-Brock, Deshler, D2 No. 2 Diller-Odell, and Johnson-Brock again in the championship.
On Thursday, Sept. 2, Mead opened the tournament up with wins over Freeman and Johnson-Brock.
In the first round of pool play, Mead won in straight sets 25-11 and 25-19 over Freeman. Everybody played well in the match, but especially Emily Oldenburg.
“Our offense was extremely efficient in the match ending with only 5 hitting errors,” Keshia Havelka said. “We took care of the ball on our side which allowed us to control the entire match. Emily Oldenburg played a nice match finishing with seven kills to lead the offense while hitting .600. She also had a game high two aces in the match. Emily is pushing herself to become a go to hitter for us. She has a great swing and we will look to her to continue the offensive success as the season progresses.”
Luetkenhaus also contributed with seven kills and eight digs while Quinn had 22 assists. Leading the team defensively were Demmy Patocka and Brianna Lemke with 10 digs.
In match two of the night; Mead had to work a little harder against a tough Johnson-Brock group. After losing the first set 23-25, they rebound to win set two 27-25, and set three 25-22.
Another major highlight from the match was the fact that Quinn tallied her 2,000 career assist in the match. She finished with 36 vs the Eagles.
“Quinn is one of the best setters/athletes that have played in our program and it is nice to see her reach this milestone so early in her senior year,” Havelka said “She works hard to get better and is never satisfied. Those are the type of athletes you want in your gym.”
Lemke stepped up with 24 kills and 12 digs, while Luetkenhaus tallied ten kills and 15 digs.
Mead traveled back to Freeman on Saturday for the 2nd day of the Freeman Invite. The Raiders faced Deshler for the 3rd pool play match of the tournament and won in straight sets 25-11 25-16.
Lemke led Mead with nine kills, a .320 hitting percentage, three aces, and seven digs. Luetkenhaus had six kills and 13 digs, and Quinn had three aces, 20 assists, and five digs.
“Our serve was the difference maker finishing with 10 aces in the match,” Havelka said. “Even a better positive was that we only allowed Deshler one ace in the match. It is always a goal in our gym to win the serve/pass battle, so I was pleased to see us do that so well.”
After the win over the Dragons, the Raiders thought they were playing Sterling in the semifinal. Instead, they found out that they were to play two time defending state champs Diller-Odell. Mead had to regroup and come up with a new strategy.
In set one, the Raiders did not play good vs the Griffons. Despite losing the set 25-18, Mead had a four-point run at the end to give themselves a boost.
Set two was even between the two squads, but then the Raiders earned three kills in a row to go up 10-8. The Griffons never were able to rebound from that and lost by a final of 25-16.
In the decisive third set, Mead dominated from start to finish. A Luetkenhaus kill gave the Raiders the side and then she ripped off five service aces to help Mead win 25-11.
Earning 12 kills in the match and hitting a spectacular .400 was Lemke. Oldenburg had 11 kills and had a hitting percentage of .611.
In the Championship, the Raiders drew a rematch with Johnson-Brock. After seeing the play of their Libero in their first matchup, they knew they were going to have to play good offensively.
The opening set Mead jumped out to a 10-3 lead on JB. Later in the set, the Eagles came back and made it interesting at 20-18. Despite that, the Raiders were able to prevail 25-21.
After losing a close second set 25-23, Mead won convincingly in the final set 25-16. A major reason for that was Lewandowski with 20 digs.
“The third and final set was probably our best volleyball of the day,” Havelka said. “It was our 8th full set and that can be taxing on players but they came out to play. I thought our physical condition was holding up nicely and we were still playing with a lot of energy. I definitely think we had the advantage there and our senior leadership on the court can really give us an extra edge in tight matches.”
Lemke had 17 kills and 17 digs and Luetkenhaus earned seven kills and 20 digs. Finishing with 13 digs and four aces was Lilly Flynn.
Earlier in the week, after a tough five-set loss to open the season against Wahoo Neumann, Mead rebounded on Aug. 31 with a victory over Johnson County Central at home. They earned the win in straight sets 25-12, 25-16, and 25-17.
There were several main factors in the Raiders earning the decisive victory over the Thunderbirds. One of the main ones being the fact they had 33 kills in the match compared to JCC’s 13.
Lemke led the Raiders with 11 kills in the match. Oldenburg had seven kills while Haylie Muhlbach had five and hit a spectacular .455.
Alex Eller is a reporter for the Wahoo Newspaper. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.