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Neligh-Oakdale played its first five-set match of the season on Thursday night as the Warriors wrapped up back-to-back road games.
Facing Niobrara/Verdigre in Verdigre, the Cougars gave Neligh-Oakdale a scare in the 25-14, 26-24, 13-25, 25-15, 15-5 win.
Neligh-Oakdale jumped out early against the host, but the Cougars showed they are better than their 1-7 record. NV stole the second set from the Warriors and rode the momentum to a big third-set victory for the 2-1 lead.
The third set started out slow for the Warriors as the Cougars sprinted out to a 6-1 advantage, but Neligh-Oakdale knotted the score at 7-all with senior Haley Kerkman's serving causing fits for N/V. It was a back-and-forth battle until the Cougars went on an 8-2 run as the Warriors struggled to keep their spikes in bound or get their serves over the net. Senior Megan Cook ended the third set with a hard kill for a dominating 25-13 set win.
In the fourth set, Neligh-Oakdale pulled ahead early with a 4-0 advantage, but three straight Warrior errors allowed N/V right back in the set. The Warriors started to find a rhythm at 10-6 when Kerkman landed a kill through a pair of Cougar blockers. Neligh-Oakdale started swinging hard from the front row with Kerkman, Trinity Kurpgeweit and Shelby Pitzer offering tough shots, which led to Cougar errors. Claire Whitesel dropped an ace for the 22-13 lead as Neligh-Oakdale pulled away to even the match at 2-all.
Neligh-Oakdale set the tone early in the final set and played its best volleyball of the night. Kerkman powered a kill across the court for the first point and grabbed the second with a long tip across the court to the opposite corner, sending the crowd to their feet. Pitzer gave the Warriors the 3-1 lead when a let serve caught the Cougars off-guard, and the ace dropped. Aubrie Klabenes connected on a key block to go up 4-1.
Back-to-back Cougar errors led to more conservative play as the Warriors increased their aggressiveness at the net. Kerkman added the 14th point of the set with a kill to the middle of the court and a hit out by the Cougars closed the match.
Neligh-Oakdale moved to 7-1 with the win but dropped in power points due to a win over a third-tier team. The Warriors will be back in action Tuesday as they host Osmond and Antelope County rival, Clearwater/Orchard.
Stats are not available at this time.