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Indians bounce back against Giants

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

GAS CITY — Nothing will take a team’s mind off a disappointing loss better than coming right back and playing a county rival.

Mississinewa had to stew on Tuesday’s four-set loss at Alexandria for the Central Indiana Conference lead, and the Indians had the opportunity to take out their frustrations Thursday evening against Marion on Fredenberger Court.

The Indians used their superior size and exploited the Giants’ inexperience to post a three-set victory (25-12, 25-13 and 25-11) behind 12 kills apiece from Halle Planck and Cailyn Bolser. Yet, coach Jody Bolser said the team still hasn’t shook off the loss to Alexandria.

“We’re still not over it,” Jody Bolser said. “We’ve moved on and are not trying to focus solely on one match, that was a tough one to come off of.

“I liked the fact that it ate at all of us and the girls struggled to sleep that night,” she added. “But they have moved on and we’ve got a good chunk of season left to focus on. Any of the local or county schools there’s that competitive edge you want to have over girls you are close to and see more frequently.”

Mississinewa moved to 17-6 with its sixth win in seven matches. Meanwhile, the Giants remained winless in 19 matches although first-year coach Larry Hinshaw said his young team is matching progress.

“We knew it would be a hard-fought match,” Hinshaw said. “(Mississinewa) is a good team with good size and we’re a young team and don’t have size. That’s not a negative or a positive — that’s where we’re at. So we’ve been working to improve our experience and improve our play and hoping to come and give a good fight.”

Planck and Cailyn Bolser both stand 6-foot-1 while Caily Bolser is 6-3 and the Giants could not put up a block around all the Indians hitters. Indians setters Tyra Stanley and Jenna Berryhill were effectively setting up the hitters, finishing with 20 and 17 assists, respectively.

“I just think our consistent passes and hits really helped out a lot in running more plays and stuff,” Planck said. “Playing a county rival like Marion definitely pushes us to try harder and we came into practice the next day (after the Alexandria loss) and fixed our errors and got better.”

Marion kept it competitive in the first set, trailing 10-8, but Cailyn Bolser and Planck took over with their hitting and spurred a six-point run and seize control. In the second set, the Giants had their only lead of the match at 6-5, but another six-point Indians run fueled by their top hitters put them in firm control.

Cailyn Bolser, a Ball State University recruit, now has 208 kills and Planck is next with 148. Coach Bolser said the Indians wanted to exploit their height advantage while trying out some new plays on the Giants.

“We have a long reach and a lot of height and it is tough (for Marion),” Jody Bolser said. “We came in with the mindset that we have plays we want to run that maybe we haven’t executed yet, and so we pulled out all of the tricks and that got inside our heads a little bit in the first and second games. We were trying to push some plays that were a little out of their comfort zone, but it’s good for them.”

Hinshaw said the Giants also were focused on improvement against a quality team.

“We’ve been trying to refine our little things, refine our technique, refine our team play and there was a lot of frustration as we learn to change and break bad habits,” Hinshaw said. “We are a little up-and-down and it’s a constant fight, and they keep fighting.”

Emily Taylor led Mississinewa with 20 digs, followed by Cailyn Bolser with 16 and Madison Stanley with 14. Kirsten Lockwood made three blocks and Tyra Stanley served three aces.

For Marion, Kaliyah Jones, Lucia Persinger and Miranda Riggs each had three kills. Persinger also had nine assists setting the offense and Riggs contributed nine digs. Aylivia Mellon led with 11 digs and Chloe Beeks served four aces.

Mississinewa hosts Delta at 6 p.m. Monday. Delta (7-8) had been ranked second in the Class 3A preseason coaches poll.

Marion hosts North Central Conference schools Richmond, Anderson and Indianapolis Tech in a round-robin at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“We feel pretty confident that we’ll get something this weekend,” Hinshaw said. “ ... Again, because of our youth and our size we’ve had to learn some things the hard way. It’s a matter of working on those little things and refining it,”