Stonewall falls, though Blank excels

QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s volleyball team lost a match, 3-0, Tuesday night. But it might have found a front-line phenom.

That would be sophomore Israel Blank, who collected six kills, one ace and four blocks versus Shenandoah District foe Stuarts Draft at the Generals’ headquarters.

The struggling Generals (0-10 district, 1-14 overall) lost to the 5-4, 7-6 Cougars by the scores of 25-9, 25-16 and 25-9, but Blank, a two-year starter for coach Lindsey Dinges, might have participated in her best individual match.

Dinges moved regular hitter Madison Long to setter, and then made Blank a hitter, which worked out for the latter, a three-sport standout at the Quicksburg school.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time for that,” Dinges said of Blank’s play. “We moved Madi Long to setter (Monday) night and stayed with it (Tuesday),” said Dinges.

“She’s my sophomore, so we have her two more years and it’s exciting.”

“I think I’ve improved my play since my freshman year,” said Blank, “I’ve adjusted with my blocking and hitting and adjusting setters.”

“Did you notice how (Stuarts Draft) tipped the ball around our blockers. That’s because we have players who can block shots. Izzie did a good job adjusting to that,” Dinges said.

Having lost game one by 16 points, Dinges held her team in its pre-game-two huddle for an extra few minutes to set up her Generals.

Out of the break they came and established a 7-2 lead in the second frame.

During that span, Blank put up three kills and a block.

But that was the second-to-last lead of the night for the Generals.

The visiting Cougars scored 5 straight points for the tie. After Stonewall led briefly at 8-7, Stuarts Draft ran off another 6 points in a row for a 13-8 lead.

The Cougars owned a 10-point lead before settling for a 25-16 final and the two-set advantage.

After a 2-all tie in game three, Stuarts Draft ran off five consecutive counters and led 7-2, but Stonewall fought back.

After a Cougar fault, Blank served up an ace. Two net balls by the Cougars pulled the Generals within 7-6.

Two Stonewall balls in the net gave Stuarts Draft a bit of breathing room at 10-7. Those two miscues were among 5 straight points for the Cougars who assumed a 12-7 lead and then made their way to the shutout victory.

“We came out dead in the first game and then in the second we regained our focus. It’s been that way for us at times. We lose a couple of points and it gets in our heads,” said Blank.

“(Blank) is one of our best athletes,” said Dinges. “Tell her once, and she’ll get it done. She’s a great youngster.”

Madison Councill garnered two kills, Emily Ball put up a kill and two blocks and Alondra Ortega also had three blocks.

In all, the Generals combined for nine blocks.

The Cougars outshot them 25-10 in kills. Senior Deborah Black was the leader with 14 kills. Danielle Brenneman came through with seven kills and five aces.