“I was impressed with our performance for our first match” said Bulldogs third-year head coach Heather Haataja. “We were sometimes a bit shy, but that’s normal. We’ll call it opening night jitters.
The key to Hancock’s three-set victories was his serves. In short, they put the ball in play, and Chassell struggled to receive it. “Our service was perfect, and it was good to see,” Haataja said. “We had a lot of aces tonight.”
To be exact, an impressive 28 of Hancock’s 75 points were aces. Ellie Heinonen led the charge with seven. Brooke Koskela served six and Cassie Pietila served five aces.
When the Panthers were able to get a return on a serve, they struggled to set up their offense.
In the first set, the Bulldogs took a 15-7 lead and never looked back. Ellie Heinonen closed the set with a four-serve streak and a 25-12 win.
The second set was also dominated by the Bulldogs. Koskela opened the set with back-to-back aces en route to a seven-point serve. Emily Kilpela added a foursome and Isabella Hebert would finish the set at 25-12. Hebert led the Bulldogs with four kills on the night. Kaisa Salani and Morgan Pietila followed with three.
“We were caught off guard and didn’t communicate well” noted Chassell’s freshman coach Carly Goddard. “We played better in our first game against Lake Linden. The girls need to speak better on the pitch.
Goddard added that she thought Chassell’s third set was her best. The team posted a 5-2 lead that turned into a 10-6 tilt a few serves later. It was their biggest lead of the night.
“We got the ball moving and were able to settle into our attack a bit,” related to Goddard.
However, thanks to strong serves from Hebert and Heinonen, the Bulldogs managed to tie it at 12 and then take a 20-14 lead and eventual 25-17 win.
“In the third, everyone was able to play” noted Haataja and it was good to see. Tonight was a good measure of where we are.
The Bulldogs will face the Linden-Hubbell Lakes on Thursday at home. Start of the game at 6:30 p.m.