Panther spikers put 23rd win in books with tourney verdict over M. Plains


Fairbanks’ Kelsey Thorbahn, left, digs the ball against Madison Plains Tuesday evening. Pictured to the right is Mikayla Mansfield. The Lady Panthers improved to 23-0 with their three-set tournament victory over the Golden Eagles.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The Fairbanks High School volleyball squad put another notch on its net Tuesday evening with a three-game sweep over Madison Plains.
The Lady Panthers’ 25-6, 25-23, 25-20 victory over the Golden Eagles came during the opening round of the Division III tournament and upped FHS’ record to 23-0.
The Lady Panthers were just too much for the visitors during the opening set.
After an early 1-1 stalemate, Fairbanks ripped off five quick points and never looked back.
Kills by Kaidie Carstensten and Brooke Kleiber pushed FHS out to a 14-5 margin.
The Golden Eagles did not help their own cause by committing several hitting and passing errors along the way.
Kelsey Thorbahn saved a tip by Megan King to give the Lady Panthers an 18-6 advantage.
Several additional hitting errors by Madison Plains allowed Fairbanks to climb to a 22-6 margin.
Thorbahn blasted a kill for a 23-6 lead.
The Eagles made two more hitting errors to put the winning points on the Lady Panthers’ side of the ledger.
FHS coach Ed Marsman said after the match that he didn’t want the victory to be too easy for his team.
The Golden Eagles must have had a premonition to that effect during the second set.
The visitors jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead after a kill from Hope Featheroll.
Fairbanks later took a 6-4 edge on an Eagle hitting miscue.
The Golden Eagles refused to fold their tents and kept up an intense battle.
A kill by King gave FHS a 12-9 lead, but Madison Plains scored six of the next seven points to grab a 15-13 lead.
The visitors reached the 20-point mark when the Lady Panthers had trouble keeping the ball in play.
Jenay Kocsis set up Carstensen’s kill that pulled Fairbanks to within 20-18.
A kill from Abbey Hubbs narrowed FHS’ deficit to 21-19.
A block from King tied the score at 21, but the Golden Eagles skimmed an ace serve off the top of the net for a 23-22 edge.
A Plains hitting miscue tied the score at 23 and another kill from Hubbs put the Lady Panthers a point away from taking a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles then sent the ball into the net for the point that gave the home squad a commanding lead in sets.
A tip over the net from King doubled FHS’ lead at 12-6 during the early going of the third game.
A kill from Kasey Carstensen and another tip by King gave the Lady Panthers a double-digit margin of 16-6.
Fairbanks took advantage of several Eagle hitting and passing errors to climb to a 20-10 margin.
At that point, Marsman began to substitute in some younger players.
The Eagles were able to eventually pull to within 23-19.
A net serve by the visitors, though, left FHS needing just one more point to sweep the match.
Kaidie Carstensen set up a kill by King that put that marker on the board.
“I think we overwhelmed Madison Plains during the first set and took care of business,” said Marsman. “However, I told the girls that they would continue to play.
“Madison Plains picked it up during the second game and we hit the ball out-of-bounds a few times,” he said. “However, I was pleased with the way we came back to win that game.
“We got to put some younger players (Samantha Picklesimer, Mack Green and Cassie Lamb) into the third game,” he said. “They also need to play and they played well.”
FHS was 68-for-72 on serving for 52 points.
The Lady Panthers came through with 41 kills, as they missed just eight of their 109 attacks.
Individual stats were as follows:
– King: 14/14 attacks, 10 kills;
-Mikayla Mansfield: 15/15 serving, five aces, 10 points, 22/23 passing;
-Hubbs: 10/10 serving, nine points, 18/23 passing; 20/20 attacks, seven kills;
-Thorbahn: 11/11 serving, seven points, 27/28 passing, 22/23 attacks, eight kills;
-Kleiber: 11/11 attacks, four kills;
-Kas. Carstensen: 9/11 attacks, three kills;
-Kai. Carstensen: 44/47 setting, 14 assists, 14/17 attacks, six kills;
-Kocsis: 43/44 setting, 12 assists;
-Gracie Tomblin: 11/11 serving, eight points, 18/18 passing.
The second-seeded Lady Panthers will return to their home floor for a 2:30 p.m. match on Saturday against No. 14 West Jefferson.
The winner will advance to district competition next week.

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