Kalyn Janssen held serve for 12 straight points to dig the Lady Jackets out an early hole in game one, and Yvette Ramirez held serve for 13 straight points in games two and three to lead the team to a 25-13, 25-12, 25-8 district win.
The win ended a two-game skid the week prior to put Runge back in good position to earn a playoff spot with two weeks left in the regular season.
Runge has hung its hat on service and defense all season, and showed their coaches and families something exciting in a home win on Parent’s Night.
“This was a good night,” head coach Adrian Pena said. “We haven’t been as consistent lately as we wanted to be. We’re sitting in fourth place right now and are on the outside looking in. (First place) Yorktown is going to be hard to catch, but going 5-1 to finish out the season will get us there.”
Tivoli started out the match with a 5-0 run, but Runge started to chip away after breaking serve. Bailey Elizondo served an early ace, and kills from Jackie Zapata and Janssen got the Lady Jackets back to the service line where Janssen took the ball with Runge trailing 11-6. The Lady Jackets took the lead at 12-11 and got kills from Elissa Sanchez and Alixx Phillips during that run to stretch the advantage out to 18-11. Sanchez and Elizondo got kills to push the lead out to 21-13, and an ace from Phillips, along with kills from Ramirez and Elizondo closed out game one at 25-13.
“We do sometimes have a tough time getting started,” Janssen said. “But when we start talking more we can usually get ourselves on a run and get back into the game.”
Runge started out the second game of their three-game win in exact opposite fashion. Zapata started out the game with a kill on the first point, and after a 1-1 tie, Ramirez took the ball and served 13 straight points that included three aces and put the Lady Jackets well in command with a 15-1 advantage.
After a short Tivoli run, Ramirez got the team back on track with a kill at 20-11, and Elizondo contributed well down the stretch with a kill and two aces in the final five points to close out game two at 25-12. Runge served 14 aces in the match, half of which came in the third and final game.
“It feels great knowing that we can be in solid rotation and rely on our serving when we need to,” Ramirez said. “The first round of district was really a challenge but we’re working hard and feeling good about our play right now.”
Sanchez served an ace on the first point of game three, and an early kill from Phillips set up Ramirez for her second 13-point stint from the service line. She served six aces in that span and Runge closed the match out quickly with some help from several unforced errors from Tivoli, something the Lady Jackets themselves committed only two of in the match.
“It’s just a lot of talking, getting hits down, getting balls over,” Ramirez said. “We know we can do it.”