It had been a year since Lathrop middle blocker Kaylee Findlay served a volleyball.
During Lathrop’s five-set match with the North Pole Patriots, the Malemutes the senior showed she wasn’t rusty in the serving department.
Findlay served a line-drive ace for the match-winning point for Lathrop in the 21/2-hour Mid Alaska Conference battle in the Lathrop High School gymnasium.
“I’m not really the strongest server. This is the first game (this season) back at serving,” Findlay said after the match, which Lathrop prevailed 29-27, 21-25, 26-28, 25-21, 15-11.
“It was something short, probably, because they were all (Patriots) a little back,” Findlay said of the match-winning serve down the middle of the court.
“I hit (served) it right in front of where they could get to it. They didn’t get to it, I guess.”
Coincidentally, Lathrop ended the match’s first set with an ace by junior middle blocker Jenna Sager.
Serve-receive, said North Pole head coach Rick Swankie, was a strong point this season for a Patriots squad which was 3-0 in the MAC before Tuesday night’s marathon contest.
“Tonight we struggled with that (serve-receive). It’s something you don’t want to struggle with,” said Swankie, whose team slipped to 5-3 overall and 3-1 MAC for a first-place tie with Lathrop in the conference standings.
Outside hitter Kinley Erickson had nine kills and served six aces for the Patriots, who got a game-high 14 kills from middle blocker Madyson Conley. One of Conley’s contributions was a heads-up kill on an over-pass for the set-winning point in the second set.
Alivia Himebauch, a middle blocker, had nine kills and Lindsey Elgin, a setter, contributed eight.
Lathrop had two players who combined for 40 kills — junior middle blocker Harmony Laa’pui with 22 and freshman outside hitter TT Tagovailoa with 18, but patience also was a factor the Malemutes.
“I always tell them to be patient with one another, always make sure you’re not only doing for your own self but for the whole team,” said Lathrop head coach Romaine Talo, whose team improved to 11-2-1 overall.
The loss in the third set proved to be a turning point for the Malemutes because Sager sustained a leg injury and didn’t return.
“They were down with the fact that we lost our middle and we (Talo and assistant coach Dee Tagovailoa) had to step away from coaching,” Talo said. “We were like, ‘What’s going on? Why are you guys playing like this? There’s only so much we as coaches can say to make sure you become the person you need to become.’
“They gave it their all. We told them ‘one point at a time.’”
A block by North Pole setter Ainsley Smith cut Lathrop’s lead to 24-21 in the fourth set. Laa’pui provided the set-winner with a kill between a block.
Koretta Mua’i, a sophomore setter and right-side hitter, contributed 11 assists and six digs for the Malemutes, who visit the West Valley Wolfpack for a MAC match at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. North Pole plays in the Nome Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Tia Campanelli provided 30 assists, 15 digs and 10 kills for the Monroe Catholic Rams in a four-set victory over the Eielson Ravens in an Aurora Conference volleyball match at Eielson Air Force Base.
The Ravens claimed the first set 26-24 and the Rams responded with 25-22, 25-15, 25-20 outcomes in the Eielson High School gymnasium.
Chloe Maynard had 20 kills and 10 blocks for Monroe, 7-5 overall and 6-2 Aurora.
Madeline Muramoto contributed 15 digs and 10 kills for the Rams, who face the Kotzebue Huskies at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grace Christian High School in Anchorage.
The Rams and Huskies are among 20 teams participating in the Lady Grizzly Tournament at Grace Christian on Friday and Saturday.
Eielson, 3-7 overall and 2-6 Aurora, was led by 12 kills from McKenna Hopper and six from Gabriella Baker. Hopper also served four aces and Baker also had three blocks.
Trinity Eliasen produced 21 assists and 12 digs. Shannon Holan contributed a match-high 26 digs and Alyssa White had 16 digs, while Hope Eliasen and Jessica Eid each had 13.
The Ravens are scheduled to host the Delta Junction Huskies in an Aurora match at 6 p.m. Friday.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.