Lady Chiefs clinch I-70 title

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The Lady Chiefs are No. 1, indeed, in both the I-70 Conference Tournament and regular season standings: (bottom row, from left) Liz Hinz, Kylie Wagner, Joci Russell, Lauren Aversman, (top row) Christina Lovercamp, Michelle Aversman, Holly Schmidt, Ashton Smith and Paula Tieman.

CONCORDIA -- And then there was one.

When last week began, the Santa Fe volleyball team had three of their biggest challenges ahead. One, of course, was to win the I-70 Conference Tournament championships -- which the Lady Chiefs did for the fifth year in a row Saturday by going 6-0 on their home court.

The other feat was hitting the road for two tough contests against serious rivals who were also undefeated in league play at the time. Santa Fe is looking for its first outright I-70 regular season crown since 2000, with St. Paul and Concordia the foes most likely to stand in the way.

After first downing the Saints, Santa Fe accomplished the second objective Monday with a 25-20, 25-10 victory over the Lady Orioles -- who had given the Lady Chiefs their stiffest competition of the tournament during a 26-24, 22-25, 25-19 semifinal decision.

Concordia head coach Andrea Kueck, a former Santa Fe assistant, said the match wasn't as bad as sweep indicated.

"We actually played them better than we played them Saturday," she asserted. "They just whipped us."

The bulk of the whipping was done by senior Holly Schmidt. The 6-foot-4 all-state middle pounded the ball for 13 kills and a pair of blocks. Yet, it didn't necessary come easily for the Lady Chiefs, forced to make 47 digs -- twice their average of 11.1 per game -- and only had two aces.

Santa Fe was up to the task, though. All-state senior Michelle Aversman had 12 saves and sophomore libero Joci Russell came up with 11. Senior Ashton Smith provided seven spikes and seven digs and senior Christina Lovercamp and sophomore Kylie Wagner both pulled up five Concordia shots, which combining for five kills.

Senior Brianne Langkrahr and junior Megan Wood each knocked down four shots and sophomore Ali Schnakenberg pulled up 14 for the Lady Orioles (21-7-2, 5-1 I-70).

The only thing standing in the way of Santa Fe (23-1-2, 6-0) and the prize which has eluded it so long is an Oct. 17 contest against Windsor to conclude the regular season. In the meantime, there are other matches ahead -- including today's clash with a tough Northwest squad at Hughesville.

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