Volleyball: Niagara sinks Lena 3-1 in Division 4 regional opener

Niagara’s Sydney Weber (20) slams the ball at Lena in Tuesday’s WIAA Division 4 regional volleyball tournament. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

NIAGARA, Wis. — Niagara beat Lena when it really counted Tuesday.

The Badgers, who split two regular season matches with the Wildcats last week, downed their M&O Conference foe 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-14, 25-22) in a WIAA Division 4 regional opener Tuesday.

“We have to do everything the hard way,” said Niagara coach Carol St. Arnauld. “But these kids don’t quit. They keep fighting. They’ll make a stupid mistake here and there but they come back and make some superb play to keep it going.”

Niagara yielded 17-12 and 20-16 leads in the first set.

The first set was tied at 22 until Lena posted an ace and two kills for the win.

“They tried to give it to us (in that first set),” St. Arnauld said. “They had a lot of service errors and we just didn’t take advantage. I thought we passed well but hitting-wise hurt us. We hit a lot out of bounds.”

In the second set, freshman libero Faith Borchardt smacked five ace serves to help Niagara pull away from a 17-17 deadlock. Sophomore Cassie Gill contributed two kills in the stretch of nine straight points.

“Faith did a nice job,” St. Arnauld said. “She was just serving it firm and deep. She must have hit the line three times, four times.”

Set three was highlighted by sophomore Jasmine Racine, who tallied a team-high 12 kills along with 11 assists and 17 digs.

“Jasmine started hitting hard in the front row,” said St. Arnauld, who instructed her girls to “get the ball out in front of you and hit it.”

In the fourth set, Niagara built a 20-13 advantage after a Racine ace but Lena rallied to within 21-20 The Badgers then put the match away with kills from seniors Allison Wells and Sydney Weber.

“I’m happy for my seniors that they finished out their career at home with a win,” said St. Arnauld. “They’ll always remember their senior year. We live to see another day.”

Niagara (11-16-3) travels to Gresham on Thursday for a second-round match.

Borchardt collected nine ace serves in the match. Wells had 10 kills and McCarthy had 22 assists. Lena’s Kaylee Huberty, Brianna Sylvester and Allyanna Demmith combined for 21 kills.

Niagara performance summary:

Jasmine Racine — 1 ace, 12 kills, 11 assists, 17 digs

Allison Wells — 3 aces, 10 kills, 9 digs

Sydney Weber — 5 kills

Maddie West — 1 kill, 1 block

Abi McCarthy — 1 ace, 1 kill, 22 assists, 7 digs

Annalise Colenso — 1 ace, 7 digs

Cassie Gill — 6 kills, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 6 digs

Alyssa Ivey — 1 kill, 2 digs

Julia Brown — 3 aces

Faith Borchardt — 9 aces, 1 kill, 11 digs