PIERCE — Hartington Cedar Catholic got a little revenge and a big confidence boost all in one on Tuesday.

The Class D No. 6-rated Trojans used 26 kills from Laney Kathol to top Class C No. 3 Pierce 19-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 in a meeting of teams that had combined to win 19 of their last 20 matches.

Cedar Catholic avenged a 2-0 loss to the Bluejays from the Wakefield tournament on Sept. 8. Since that time, the Trojans (12-6) have won nine of 10 matches with the only loss coming in four sets to Class D No. 1 Norfolk Catholic.

“It’s such a confidence booster,” said Kathol, a 6-foot senior. “We were so prepared going into it, and we just gave it our all. It really raises our bar for the rest of our games.

“We’ve been putting in so much work in practice. We’ve been really focusing on the things we knew they were going to do, so we did our best.”

Cedar Catholic coach Denae Buss said the biggest difference between the first set and the last three was her team’s mindset.

“We truly wanted it,” she said. “I felt like our energy came up a notch. I think we wondered, ‘Can we play with Pierce?’ because their record’s out there. We know they are a very solid team.

“Believing that we’re going to go the extra step helped.”

Pierce (12-2) used a pair of 5-0 runs to win the first set comfortably.

But the Trojans scored the first three points in the second and went up by as many as 21-15. Pierce used a 5-0 run to get back within one before Cedar Catholic closed it out on a Kathol kill.

The third set followed the same script. The Trojans led 22-15, saw the Bluejays get back within one and then sealed up a 2-1 advantage on an ace from Katy Jones.

“They made plays when they needed to,” Pierce coach Zach Weber said. “That’s the difference in those close ones when it is 20-20 or close to that. Who is going to make the play? Tonight, it fell in their direction.”

Buss said the Trojans did a nice job of holding their composure when Pierce was making its charges.

“We took a deep breath, went back to fundamentals and knew that it was OK,” she said. “We needed to stack our good instead of stacking our bad on top of more bad.

“I thought our block started doing a good job of slowing them down because they can hit the line like no tomorrow.”

It was Cedar Catholic’s turn to try to come back in the fourth set, and this one was successful.

Pierce raced out to a 12-6 lead, but the Trojans stormed back to go up 22-18 and eventually won the match on Kathol’s last of her 26 kills.

“Our energy boost was so good in those last three sets,” Kathol said. “We went into that second one knowing we were going to clear out that first one and finish the next three.

“It was amazing. I think this was the best we’ve played all year.”

Meredith McGregor finished with 37 set assists for the Trojans.

Maggie Painter led Pierce with 16 kills and Jaya Wachholtz added 11. Brielle Unseld finished with 42 set assists.

The Bluejays were out of system too much to be able to extend their winning streak to 12.

“It was kind of same story, different game there,” Weber said. “Serve and serve receive killed us. We had a heck of a time getting in system. I think we were below 30% in system on our serve receives.

“Then we weren’t getting them out of system on our serves that were in. We’re going to struggle. We’re going to struggle when they have a hitter like Laney where we’re basically giving them free balls with our serve. It becomes difficult to defend.”

He expects Pierce to bounce back just like it did after its other loss to Norfolk Catholic in five sets in the second match of the season.

“Similar to last time we lost, we don’t have a lot of time to pout or cry about it,” he said. “We have a tough Lutheran High team on the road on Thursday then go to a tough tournament in Madison on Saturday. There are matches out there for redemption, but we have to come at it with a better mindset. We need to attack practice tomorrow like it’s a match.”

Cedar Catholic (12-6) 19 25 25 25

Pierce (12-2) 25 21 22 22

CEDAR CATHOLIC (kills-aces-blocks): Laney Kathol 26-1-2, Katy Jones 0-2-0, Annika Kuehn 0-2-0, Lexi Eickhoff 2-0-4, Faith Christensen 0-0-0, Meredith McGregor 1-0-0, Lauren Bernecker 2-1-3, Jozie Becker 5-0-1, Melayna McGregor 6-0-0, Grace Wortmann 0-3-0. Totals 42-9-10.

PIERCE (kills-aces-blocks): Claudia Riggert 8-0-0, Skylar Scholting 6-1-0, Jaya Wachholtz 11-3-1, Ciara Garcia 6-0-5, Brielle Unseld 4-1-0, Maggie Painter 16-1-1, Morgan Moeller 1-2-0, Raegan Thiessen 0-0-0. Totals 52-8-7.

Set assists: Cedar Catholic 38 (Mer. McGregor 37, Jones 1); Pierce 42 (Unseld 42).

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