GOODHUE – A little more than a week has passed since Goodhue opened its season with a sometimes uninspiring victory over Red Wing. On Tuesday, the Wildcats looked as though a year had gone by, such were the strides made in a 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 25-10, 16-14) loss to third-ranked (Class AA) Kasson-Mantorville.

“I told my girls, once again, minus Game 4, ‘I am so proud of you right now. You worked your butts off, and played great,’” said Goodhue head coach Lindsey Mace. “We still had some miscommunication issues, and that hurt us a lot tonight. Honestly, I think that was the only thing. We were scrappy, we played great defense (and) we had a couple of really strong hits. Sometimes you win ‘em, sometimes you don’t.”

Defense was certainly the name of the game for the Wildcats. Shelby Hinsch had seven ace blocks, including one in Game 3 that gave Goodhue a 24-21 lead. Hinsch then won the set for the Wildcats with a kill, one of nine she had in the game. And it was Hinsch that got that middle frame off to a blazing start for Goodhue, racking up an ace block and three kills to jumpstart the Wildcats to a 5-2 lead.

“Shelby was on fire tonight,” Mace said. “I pointed her out after the game, too. There was a rally in Game 3 where she had (several) blocks and ended with a solid kill herself. I’ve never seen one player earn a point like that all on her own. She’s a great player. She really is.”

As good as the night was for Goodhue, it could have been better. A 4-0 lead to start the evening evaporated just as fast. Later in the first game, the Wildcats were up 14-10 and 16-12. But the KoMets kept coming, scoring 13 of the final 19 points to take a 1-0 lead.

But Goodhue answered with a solid second set, which included a six-point K-M run to pull the game within a point at 22-21. A couple of hitting errors later, and the match was tied.

The third set again saw Goodhue jump out quick, this time to a 3-0 lead, which was eventually pushed to 9-5. K-M did claim the lead at 15-14, and again at 19-18, but the Wildcats clawed ahead 20-19 and held off one of the state’s best teams to take a 2-1 lead.

The fourth set saw the KoMets flex as Goodhue was able to score back-to-back points just three times in the game. The deciding set was as thrilling as the first three games, with Goodhue riding a four-point run to an 11-9 lead. K-M answered with four straight to put the pressure back on the Wildcats, who responded with consecutive points. But at 14-all, Taylor Miller left little doubt with two booming kills, ending the match and a chance for a grand Goodhue upset.

Alex Donahue added six kills for the Wildcats while Michelle Hadler totaled 29 set assists and 16 digs. Lexie Kennedy (15 digs) Kate McNamara (12) and Donahue (10) also had solid defensive evenings.

While it’s still a loss, Goodhue’s sudden arrival was a win for a team that features 12 seniors, but several juniors and underclassmen with potential if little experience.

“Practice,” Mace said. “We’re a young team. I think you’re going to see improvements every week. I think you’re going to see improvements every game we play. I have a bench full of girls who work their tails off in practice to make these girls better. I think it’s just going to go up from here.”