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INTENSE CONCENTRATION - Maddie Monge prepares a pass attempt during the Aug. 30 home contest with Eureka. Roanoke-Benson fell in two sets (For the Journal/Ben Aldrich).

ROANOKE - Eureka overcame some sluggish play to defeat Roanoke-Benson 25-16, 25-22 on Aug. 30 at Dick Broers Gymnasium.

In the old fable of the tortoise and the hare, Eureka (10-0) is the latter and their adversary is usually the former. That was the case in the road opener.

“Sometimes when we come across a team that does not run as quick of offense as we do, we tend to lose focus,” Hornets’ coach Tracy Heffren said. “What I told the girls (was) we have to focus back on what we have to do.”

Although they never trailed in the first set, the guests never shook the Rockets (6-5) until a Hailey Flowers’ kill made it 19-13.

According to R-B coach Jodie Sauder, her squad knew they would not be able to bring up a vast majority of the Eureka swings.

“That’s what I told them just try to get what you can. I felt like we dug quite a bit,” she commented. “We were optimistic just how well our defense is.”

In the 2017 meeting, the Hornets enjoyed a 25 to eight edge in kills, but R-B made that category more respectable Thursday at 21 to 14.

In the second set, a combination block by Frannie Heckman and Kamryn Kearfott knotted it at 13 apiece.

Although R-B is shorter than Eureka, the front row was effective with the block.

“I felt like we were getting our hands up quite a bit,” Jodie Sauder said. “Those balls were right up against the net.”

A set attack from Darby Leman put the Hornets back on top at 14-13.

R-B got as close as 24-22 before a Heffren kill came on match point.

According to Coach Sauder, the Rockets will be able to benefit in defeat to an opponent the caliber of her sister’s squad.

“That’s what I told them, that’s the best team and hitting team we’ve faced,” she said. “We can only learn and grow from it.”

Flowers led all hitters with 11 kills, while Courtney Heffren added five to go with 13 service points and 12 digs. Amy Pineda handed out 11 assists, while Leman added nine.

One luxury the Hornets boast is the fact they have two viable hitting options if in need of a point in either Flowers or the younger Heffren.

Although Coach Heffren feels any of the six of the court can make a play when counted on.

 “I just think the overall experience we have factors in,” she said. “We can look to anybody whether it’s Hailey, Courtney, one of the setters or anybody else on the floor.”

Maddy Oltman’s seven kills were a team-high for R-B. Paige Sauder added 10 assists and five points, while Brynn Rossman recorded seven digs.

According to Tracy Heffren, her team is well aware they will get most everybody’s best shot.

“We have a target on our back with the players we have returning,” she stated. “We need to play our A game every time we step on the court because the other team will bring their A game.”

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