Fairbanks spikers top Monarchs in four-set, non-conference battle


In the top photo, Fairbanks’ Kaidie Carstensen (3) blasts the ball past Marysville’s Carys Gossett for a kill during Monday evening’s varsity volleyball match. In the bottom photo, Lady Monarch Larissa Smith (11) gets the ball past FHS’ Emma Griffey (16). The Lady Panthers won the non-conference match in four sets.

(Journal-Tribune photos by Tim Miller)

Fairbanks High School volleyball coach Ed Marsman felt Monday’s four-set victory over Marysville was a good late-season test for his squad.

“Marysville is a Division I team with a lot of height,” he said after the D-III Lady Panthers’ 25-21, 27-25, 24-26, 25-9 triumph.

He knew, however, that it meant something more to his team.

“This is OSU-Michigan to our kids,” he said. “The girls were really pumped up for this match.”

The first three sets were fierce battles, with neither team able to establish a firm upper hand.

“We took care of our side of the court for three sets,” said Lady Monarch coach Bethany Bentz. “I think we just got tired during the fourth game.”

The opening set saw Fairbanks (16-4) jump out to a 14-8 lead when Marysville (8-15) sent a block sailing out-of-bounds.

That margin was by no means secure as a kill from Rhiannon Gossett pulled the Lady Monarchs to within 16-13.

FHS pushed its lead back to 19-14 on kills by Emma Griffey and Kaidie Carstensen.

Fairbanks could not, however, put away Marysville.

Larissa Smith tipped the ball over the net and added another kill to close the Lady Monarchs’ deficit to 21-19.

An errant dig by the Lady Panthers left them clinging to a precarious 21-20 edge.

Fairbanks then tallied three quick points.

Taylar Sphapmixay set a kill by Griffey, while Carstensen recorded a pair of kills for a 24-20 lead.

MHS added a point when the Panthers allowed the ball to drop to the floor.

A Monarch hitting error into the net, however, notched Fairbanks’ final point of the set.

The Lady Panthers doubled their lead in the second set at 16-8 when Marysville was whistled for a net violation.

Fairbanks appeared to have the set firmly in hand when Sphapmixay “pooched” the ball over the net for a 22-13 margin.

The Lady Monarchs, however, refused to wave the white flag of surrender.

Ace serves by Peyton Ingle led a charge that saw MHS climb to within 22-18.

Marysville’s net serve put Fairbanks at set point, 24-19.

Alyssa Codner tallied back-to-back kills as the Lady Monarchs narrowed the spread to 24-21.

Gossett scored a point on a block as Marysville continued its fierce comeback.

Hitting and passing miscues by FHS led to MHS grabbing a 25-24 edge.

An errant Marysville serve tied the set at 25.

A pair of Monarch hitting errors gave Fairbanks a pair of points and a 2-0 lead in sets.

Fans on both sides of the Panther gymnasium were kept on the edge of their seats during the third game.

Kaitlyn DeLauter’s kill pushed Marysville out to a 14-10 lead.

Fairbanks battled back to deadlock the game at 17-all.

Jillian Gardner and Smith teamed for a block that gave Marysville a 21-18 lead.

MHS hitting miscues, though, created a 21-all stalemate a few minutes later.

A kill by Carstensen from a set by Sphapmixay tied the game at 22.

Carstensen later came through with a block for a 24-all deadlock.

Fairbanks was caught in the official’s crosshairs on a lift infraction that broke the stalemate.

The Lady Panthers then sent the ball sailing out-of-bounds for MHS’ victory.

“I think maybe the girls were a little too pumped in the third set,” said Marsman. “We missed eight serves because of that.”

The intensity of the first three sets appeared to catch up with the Lady Monarchs during the final game.

Fairbanks (which will travel to Northeastern tonight) climbed to an early 10-1 margin and was never really challenged.

Carys Gossett got MHS (which will travel to Hilliard Davidson on Thursday) back on the scoreboard with its second point.

Griffey recorded a pair of kills several minutes later for a 14-4 Panther lead.

Anna Higbee’s kill put FHS at game point – 24-9 – and a Monarch hitting miscue ended the match.

Despite the loss, Bentz saw some things she liked about her team’s play.

“We executed our game plan and made adjustments in hitting the ball to different spots on the court,” she said. “The girls continue to grow in their volleyball IQ.”

Fairbanks stats for the match were as follows:

-Carstensen: 15 kills, seven blocks, 22 attacks;

-Sphamixay: 41 perfect sets, 13 assists, 11 kills;

-Cassie Lamb: 14 points, 24 assists;

-Lizzie Nicol: 11 sets, five assists;

-Jayda Rausch: 14 attacks, six kills;

-Griffey: seven kills, six blocks;

-Higbee: 12 points, 17 passes, seven kills;

-Olivia Vollrath: 28 passes, seven points.

Rhiannon Gossett, Madison Fluharty and DeLauter each finished with five kills for the Lady Monarchs.

Morgan Shick and Codner each tallied 18 digs.

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