Focus falters in tight match
Fond du Lac’s backup libero Cody Peterson posted seven aces as the visiting Cardinals pulled out a close victory over the Fort Atkinson boys volleyball team Thursday night, 25-23, 26-24, 23-25, 25-17.
Peterson recorded back-to-back aces in the opening set to give Fond du Lac a 16-15 advantage before the Blackhawks made a quick 7-4 run. The Cardinals then scored five of the next six points, including four consecutive to close out the set.
“It’s all a matter of mental intensity and focus,” Fort Atkinson head coach Manson Morris said.
The second set was also a tight affair with the Blackhawks taking an early 15-8 lead when Jesse Kutz put down one of his 10 kills on the night and Kraymer Gladem added one of his nine.
The Blackhawks and Cardinals each scored nine points as the hosts had game point with a 24-19 lead. Fond du Lac scored the next seven points to take the set 26-24.
“Just see it and take it, and that was the difference,” Fond du Lac head coach Scott Stelmacher said of the opportunities. “They were hesitating early on and went after it late.”
The Blackhawks came back in the third set, and just like in the first two, was tied with just points to go. This time, Fort Atkinson got an ace from Jacob Kostroski and a hitting error to win 25-23.
Fond du Lac scored nine of the final 10 points in the fourth set to win the match.
Fort Atkinson made a switch on Thursday to a 6-2 offense in which Tyson Schieber and Isaac Jensen shared the setting duties to allow Schieber to swing more in the front row and work stronger defensively in serve receive without playing a libero.
“This was a great nonconference opportunity for us to put it to work, and we’ll take some things from the match today to help us focus on prior to the conference match on Tuesday,” Morris said.
Fond du Lac relied heavily on its outside hitters, Blake Badtke and Mike Warntjes. Badtke (14 kills) outpaced Warntjes (12) on the night.
“This was the first week Mike didn’t win that battle, so he had a few demons he was chasing tonight,” Stelmacher said. “But they worked it out.”
Gladem led the Blackhawks with four aces, while Patrick Yoder tallied six blocks. Schieber and Benjamin Nelson each posted four kills.
Fort Atkinson returns to action next Tuesday at home against Madison Memorial.
FOND DU LAC 3, FORT ATKINSON 0
Fond du Lac 25 26 23 25
Fort Atkinson 23 24 25 17
Leaders: Kills — FDL, Badtke, 14; FA, Kutz, 10. Aces — FDL, Peterson, 7; FA, Kraymer, 4. Blocks — FA, Yoder, 6.