When Mackenzie Dahlin gets rolling with her high-speed serve, the Kaukauna volleyball player resembles a flame-throwing pitcher who keeps firing the ball past hitters.
The Ghosts’ senior left-hander worked her way into a serious serving groove Thursday night.
Dahlin delivered 11 aces — four coming in a pivotal second set — to lift Kaukauna to a 3-0 Fox Valley Association volleyball win over Menasha.
Dahlin, an outside hitter, also had a team-high10 kills and seven digs to help the Ghosts improve to 2-3 in the FVA.
“She’s kind of a firecracker for us,” said Kaukauna coach Guy DeShaney. “She’s very aggressive with her serve and has great arm swing. She passes really well, too. She’s a left outside hitter, which I’m not too used to, but she makes it work.”
The Ghosts won a 25-19 opener, but found themselves trailing 16-8 midway through the second set. That’s when Dahlin began to make a difference with her serving. She blasted the ball past the Bluejays for three aces in a four-point span and the Ghosts rallied back. Kaukauna scored 17 of the final 22 points and take the set 25-21, getting the final point on a booming kill by senior Kayla Coonen..
“I think it was just a matter of us pulling together, playing together and not letting ourselves get down,” said Dahlin. “We were able to put a few serves down that second match and started playing real good defense.”
Kaukauna closed out the Bluejays by winning a 25-17 third set. Menasha led 11-8 at one point, but the Ghosts again calmly battled their way and controlled the second half of the set.
“We’ve been down in almost every set we’ve played this season, but then we seem to work our way up,” said DeShaney. “Tonight, it took us awhile to get into the match and get going, but we’ve had some kids who’ve been sick and our middle blocker, Anna Hopfensperger, didn’t play with an injury. So, this really wasn’t the team we’ve been playing with. But you can’t complain about three wins.”
Freshman outside hitter Mikayla Stumpf gave Dahlin help in the hitting department with eight kills, while junior setter/right side hitter Taylor Ball had a busy night with 18 assists, five kills, four digs and three aces.
“We’re starting to pick it up,” said Dahlin. “I think we have a real good future ahead of us as long as we keep playing with energy.”
Despite losing in straight sets, Menasha played competitive volleyball. Senior Zoe Bush led the Bluejays with five kills and three blocks.
“It’s probably the best match we’ve played so far,” said Menasha coach Sally Thompson. “We’re starting to put things together and, hopefully, we’ll keep pushing to the next level. What happened to us tonight is what’s happened to us a lot this year. We’ll get a lead, but then we don’t take it to the next level. We have to get the girls more confident and put these matches away. It wasn’t a win, but we’re getting better.”
Kaukauna beat Menasha, 25-19, 25-21, 25-17. Kaukauna leaders: Mackenzie Dahlin 11 aces, 10 kills, 7 digs; Taylor Ball 18 assists, 5 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces; Mikayla Stumpf 8 kills; Kendra Leon 6 digs; Jordan VandeYacht 3 aces; Kristin Reque 5 assists; Kayla Coonen 2 aces. Menasha leaders: Zoe Bush 5 kills, 3 blocks; Rebecca Schramm 4 kills; Gretchen Platte 4 digs; Rebecca Konetzke 8 assists; Bri Lee 3 blocks; Brooke Mentzel 4 assists.
— Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or email@example.com; On Twitter @twfroberg