It was a satisfying victory for Hickman.
Hermann swept Hickman last year and the Kewpies remembered that loss well and wanted to return the favor.
The Kewpies accomplished their goal by beating the Bearcats 25-13, 25-18 Monday at Hickman.
Hickman (12-0) returned all but one member of last year’s team.
“Hermann had a really good team last year,” Kewpies coach Greg Gunn said. “This is the same group of girls that went there and got beat so badly last year. There was a little bad taste in the mouth from that and they wanted to redeem themselves.”
Hickman’s senior leadership showed. The Kewpies held off a Hermann run in the second match that closed the score to 16-13. Senior Veronica Smith got a kill off of a Bearcats blocker and an errant Hermann pass gave senior Brenna Schlader an unblocked kill in the middle.
After a service error by Emily Elsenraat, Naomi Tesfamikael got another kill off of a Bearcats pass to increase the lead to 23-17. Hermann’s lone senior, Andrea Robertson had a big hit from the back row and Sharin Muskrat’s dig led to a Paige Ely kill. Teresa Diebal missed long on a hitting attempt and the Kewpies won.
Hickman broke its pattern of falling behind earlyand earned a 10-5 lead in the first game. Alex Ristow broke a tie at 5 with a kill, then served five straight points.
Hermann miscues helped the Kewpies gain the lead. Sophomore Cassie Robertson missed into the net on a hit and then the Bearcats used four hits. Tesfamikael blocked two straight hits and Smith earned a kill before a Ristow service error stopped the run.
Gunn said the team has talked about not getting off to slow starts.
“We talked about that our signature was to get off to a slow start,” Gunn said. “They came out pumped up and the crowd helped pump them up.”
The Kewpies got some help from the ceiling in closing out the first game win. With a 24-13 lead, a Hermann pass deflected off the ceiling and caused junior Andrea Hart to hit the ball long.
The outside hitters led Hickman’s offense against Hermann after attacking from the middle led last week. Smith and Ristow led the team with six kills each and Ely had four. Tesfamikael had three and Schlader earned two from the middle. Danielle Newton had 15 assists.
Gunn said Newton is the reason for the balanced offensive attack.
“Dani moves the ball around,” Gunn said. “She watches the blockers and keeps the ball away from their best blocker. If the best blocker is in the middle, she moves the ball outside. Plus, it also depends on where the pass is and what she can do with it.”