Serve it up was what the game announcer said to do and the Beckman volleyball team followed that instruction. It was a big day for the Blazers who started the season 2-0 after beating Independence in four sets (25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22) and sweeping Western Dubuque in three (25-19, 25-22, 25-19) in a non-conference triangular held in Dyersville August 29.
“We struggled where I thought we might struggle. Yes, we have some seniors out there but not many of them have played varsity ball,” said Todd Troutman, head coach of the Blazers. “Even though our young kids and seniors mix together well, I knew we were still going to struggle at times. However, I loved the way we fought.”
The battle between Beckman (2-0) and Western Dubuque (0-3) was a classic clash between the former WaMaC Conference foes. Neither team was able to take control of the first set until Beckman grabbed a four-point lead at 14-10. Their lead grew to 19-13, but service errors became an issue for the Bobcats. They made mistakes on three serves and almost handed the Blazers the first set 25-19.
After a short break, the Bobcats took the court with new energy as they quickly grabbed an early 9-4 lead. A kill by Meredith Bahl put the Bobcats up 16-12, but Beckman scored five of the next six points to tie the set at 17-17. After consecutive sideouts and consecutive kills by Maddie Harris, the Bobcats held a 20-18 lead. The lead grew to three as it looked like the Bobcats had won the biggest point of the match when Libby Lansing recorded a block kill on a blast by Beckman’s Jada Wills. The young Bobcats loudly celebrated winning that point, but gave it right back on a service error. The Blazers then went on a roll winning six of the next seven points to close out the set and take a 2-0 lead.
In the third set, the Blazers jumped out to a 7-0 advantage until the Bobcats decided to work their way back into the match. Slowly Western Dubuque chipped away at the lead and found themselves down 14-13 after winning another big point when they dug two more bombs off the arm of Wills and kept the ball alive until Bahl delivered a kill to take the point. A kill by Kaylee Elgin tied up the set at 16-16, but again the Blazers closed the door and won the set 25-19 to win the match.
“That’s the way it always is with West Dubuque and Beckman. No matter who’s expected to be the better team, it’s going to be a battle. We expected a tough match tonight,” said Troutman. “They are a very good team. They are very, very young but they will figure that out pretty soon.”
“We fight and that’s the one thing that keeps me confident about those girls. It doesn’t really matter what the score is, they are going to fight,” said Megan Scherrman, head coach for the Bobcats. “They are going to stay aggressive and they are never going to give up.”
As they fought, the Bobcats won most of the biggest points of the night, but every time they did they couldn’t follow it up.
“We talked to the girls about all those high points we had and about being that well-oiled machine and now it’s just figuring out with this young group how to do that for 25 points,” said Scherrman. “Eighteen or 19 points isn’t enough. It will come. I’m confident it will come.”
Earlier in the night, Beckman took on Independence in their first match of the season. After the two teams split the first two sets of the match, Troutman made a mistake when submitting the lineup for the third set forcing some of Beckman’s 11-player rotation to play in positions they normally don’t play. After two timeouts and finding themselves in a hole early in the set, the Blazers regrouped and figured out what the issue was and started to click.
“I give the girls 100 percent credit because they came out and figured it out. They talked to one another and just played volleyball,” said Troutman. “We just have to worry about our side of the net. Until we figure out who we are, we just have to worry about our side of the net. The other team is going to do some good things, but we just have to play our game.”
Beckman went on a 9-1 run to take control of the third set and then leaned on their front line to control play in the fourth set to finish out Independence.
When it was the Bobcats turn to play Independence (1-1), they used the strong serve of Madison Maahs to take care of business. Neither team held more than a two-point lead until Maahs took the ball for the Bobcats. With the score 8-8, Maahs peppered serves all over the court hitting her spots and when Independence finally earned a side out they were down by seven, 16-9. Back-to-back kills by Meg Besler and Maddie Harris gave the Bobcats their largest lead of the set, 18-9, and enough of a cushion to hold on to win, 25-19.
The Bobcats weren’t so lucky over the next three sets as Independence handed them their second loss of the season, closing out the match, 25-22, 25-23, 25-11.
Beckman’s leaders were: kills — Wills 29, Paige McDermott 16, Chloe Ungs 13, Kiersten Schmitt nine, Kylee Rueber five, Haley LeGrand two; assists – Makayla Koelker 27, Leah Wessels 25, Schmitt 14; digs — Olivia Hogan 39, Wills 21, Ashley Engelken 16, Wessels 11; blocks — Paige McDermott 10, Schmitt and Ungs seven, Rueber six; serves — Schmitt 9-of-9, Wessels 24-of-25, Hogan 20-of-21, Paige McDermott 17-of-18, Engelken 25-of-27, Wills 30-of-33; aces — Nell McDermott and Wills three , Engelken two.
Western Dubuque’s leaders were: kills — Bahl 25, Harris 14, Besler 11, Elgin six, Sara Horsfield and Maahs two ; assists — Maahs 59; digs — Ella Meyer 12, Maahs nine, Clare Horsfield five, Bahl four; blocks — Elgin and Libby Lansing six , Bahl and Maahs five, Besler three; serves — Harris 19-of-19, Sara Horsfield 8-of-8, Horsfield seven-for-seven; aces — Bahl and Maahs three, Harris two, Meyer one.