Sophomore Aunesty Jantz’s double-double led the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks volleyball team past the Catalina Foothills Falcons on Wednesday night.
The young Nighthawks team beat the Falcons three sets to zero (25-14, 25-20, 25-22) to rebound off a recent loss to Hamilton High School and improve to 2-1 on the season.
The Catalina Foothills defense opened the game strong with three consecutive blocks at the net, but it didn’t take long for Jantz to find her momentum, picking up two kills, two digs, and a block in the first three minutes of play to build a 7-4 Nighthawks lead.
The Nighthawks would ride the wave to a 13-1 run, in which Hana Peterman added two aces and a kill to bring the score to 20-5.
Led by Catalina Foothills’ Jazlyn Guenther, the Falcons would go on a 9-4 run of their own, but it wasn’t enough to close the deficit, and Ironwood Ridge closed out the set with an eleven-point gap.
Still, 10th-year Ironwood Ridge Head Coach Bill Lang knows his girls are capable of more early on in a game.
“I thought we started a bit slow,” he said. “We didn’t identify their hitters soon enough, and we were jumping prematurely on defense. We had a little bit of a hangover after losing yesterday to Hamilton, who is one of the best teams in the state.”
Lang said the “slow start” is also the result of how early in the season it is.
“We’re still trying to get into rhythm,” he said. “We played our entire bench tonight with the exception of one player who is hurt. We haven’t identified a starting lineup, so that’s hurt us, because we keep mixing around players and trying to see who can do what, and who can be in what situation.”
But for a team that lost seven seniors to graduation last year, the Nighthawks were good enough to finish the Falcons off in the next two sets.
Catalina Foothills led the second set early after Brit Beyer and Lauren Franz turned blocks into points. Trailing 4-2, Ironwood Ridge pulled even with tips by Jordan Weatherless and Kelly Bumb.
The set would stay within two points until the Ironwood Ridge offense again found its rhythm late.
Jantz earned two kills, Kennedy Kurtz earned one, and Kelly Bumb came up with a block to help the Nighthawks pull away with a 20-14 lead.
An assist from Jordan Weatherless to Jantz brought it to set point, and a botched serve by Catalina Foothills would seal the second set.
The Falcons never led at any point in the third set, and a kill by Jantz would put it away 25-21 for Ironwood Ridge.
“As play went on, we really came together more,” said Ironwood co-captain Sara Hohenstein. “Our hitting and passing got better, and we became more comfortable out there. I just tried keeping the girls calm and told them we need to minimize errors.”
Jantz earned 10 kills and 11 blocks in the game.
Other notable performances from Ironwood Ridge included Jordan Weatherless with 12 assists and eight digs, Emily Gosciminski with nine digs, Kennedy Kurtz with six kills, and Sarah Gosciminski with five kills.