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Notre Dame volleyball beats Saxony in five-set thriller for third-straight win

Notre Dame sisters senior outside hitter Tori Rubel (left) and freshman middle blocker Kate Rubel combined for eight total blocks in the Bulldogs 3-2 win over Saxony Lutheran last night at Jerry Grim Court. Photo by Jay Forness

Last night on Jerry Grim Court, the Notre Dame volleyball team moved one step closer to its goal of repeating as Class 3 District 1 Champions. The Bulldogs did so by beating a 17-win Saxony Lutheran team that had won the Dig For Life Challenge last month.

Notre Dame (16-5-3) was also in the Dig For Life tournament, but it had fallen to Farmington in the championship semifinals. The Knights (17-6-1) were then swept by the Crusaders (17-4-2) in the title game.

Of course, it wasn’t an easy task for the Bulldogs to pick up the win over Saxony as the match went all five sets. Both teams traded victories until Notre Dame won the fifth and final set to pick up a 3-2 win (25-18, 15-25, 25-12, 21-25, 15-11).

Coming up with a team-high 14 kills for the Bulldogs was none other than 6-foot freshman middle blocker Kate Rubel, who recorded a .414 hitting percentage on top of that. Pacing Rubel with double-digit kills of her own was 5-5 senior outside hitter Kristin Anderson with 10 (.143 hitting percentage) as she also had 15 digs defensively.

Keeping Saxony’s offense attack at bay was the front row duo of Notre Dame sisters Kate Rubel and 6-1 senior outside hitter Tori Rubel, aka The Twin Towers 2.0. Kate and Tori combined for eight total blocks with four apiece, while their teammate 6-0 sophomore middle blocker Courtney Tatum had two.

Last Friday, the Rubels combined for seven blocks in a 3-0 win over Leopold (7-11-1) as Kate finished with four total blocks and Tori had three. Kate also recorded multiple blocks (three) and double-digit kills (10) in the Bulldogs 3-0 sweep of Advance (13-7) on Monday.

Offensively versus Saxony, Tori had the second-best hitting percentage behind Kate with a .231 for four kills off 13 attacks. Finishing third in kills for the Bulldogs was Tatum as she produced a total of eight out of her 25 kill attempts (.160 hitting percentage). Notre Dame 5-7 senior outside hitter Grace Young added six kills from her 19 attacks (.211).

Setting the ball to these Bulldogs was a combination of setters freshman Claudia Jones and senior Emma-Claire Self. Jones led the way with a career-high 25 assists as Self, who recorded 11 digs defensively, paced her with 12.

Another performance that was critical in the Bulldogs win was senior libero Anna Garner’s as she came up with a team-high 37 digs. Fellow back row player Notre Dame junior defensive specialist Aubrey Neumeyer had 20 digs.

Notre Dame will now play in its final tournament of the regular season at Lutheran South tomorrow. The Bulldogs are set to face Troy Buchanan (6-16-1) and tournament host Lutheran South (5-13-1) in pool play.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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