Sami Kay Shafranski was hungry for a Central Wisconsin Conference-8 win Tuesday night.
In order for that to happen, Pacelli setter Hannah Raflik, or whomever received the first pass, kept feeding the junior outside hitter throughout most of the Cardinals’ match with Iola-Scandinavia.
And Shafranski delivered more often than not, especially down the stretch, finishing with a game-high 12 kills to help the Cardinals erase late deficits in the final two sets and complete a 25-20, 25-23, 26-24 sweep at the Student Activities Center.
“When I’m on a (hitting) streak, I like to get set a lot, so I can do it for the team and put away (points and sets) for the team,” Shafranski said. “I think we just had to get some points (late in sets) to get the momentum back and take it and go through to the end.”
Iola-Scandinavia had every reason to believe set two and set three were going to be heading to their side of the ledger after the Cardinals took the opening set.
Setter Kylie Johnson was putting hitters in great positions to score or employ the old dink-n-dunk move to score points off some solid serve-receive passes, and gain control of sets.
“We were looking to find the right chemistry and the girls kept battling and fighting,” I-S coach Charmaine Schreibner said.
The T-Birds fought their way to a 21-17 lead in the second set and were on the brink of taking set three with a 22-18 cushion, only to have service errors and serve-receive mistakes creep into their play late.
As a result, they were unable to finish the job in the final two sets despite eight kills from Kaylin Ellioff, while Brianne Huettner collected 11 digs to keep points alive.
“They made the plays in crunch time, and that comes down to court experience. It’s tough to win when you play tentative,” Schreibner said. “This is a great rivalry and I thought the teams were evenly matched.”
Every time the Thunderbirds appeared ready to close out a set, however, Shafranski would take over.
And the junior didn’t limit her contributions to the hitting attack. Shafranski also contributed 12 digs and picked up three aces.
“When she is on, she is on, and she was on tonight,” Pacelli coach Ray Gutowski said.
Iola-Scandinavia also had their hands full with Brooke Feltz, who hurt them with a wicked serve on the baseline that resulted in four aces, and she inflicted some damage at the net.
Payton Hintz and Andrea Pisarski added 10 and eight kills, respectively, while Sarah Mitch anchored the defense with 17 digs.
Shafranski, Hintz, Pisarski and Feltz would never have been able to do their thing without Raflik doing hers with 33 assists.
To rally from late deficits in the final two sets and pull out wins was an encouraging sign for the Cardinals with the regular season winding down.
“This was probably the first night we were able to do that (rally) in back to back sets,” Gutowski said. “That has been our Achille’s heel when we get behind, how do we come back.
“I think we grew a lot tonight.”