Hosting the Marion Indians Sept. 10, the Beckman volleyball team eased to a three-game sweep, 25-22, 25-19, 25-16.
That is, after the first game, in which neither team could build much of an edge. Seldom more than two points split the two until the Indians went on a five-point run to turn a 16-14 deficit into a 19-16 advantage. Coach Todd Troutman called a quick timeout and the next Indian serve went long to give the ball back to the Blazers.
Only trouble was, the next Blazer serve, from Nell McDermott, did the same, but after an exceedingly long volley, the point went to the Blazers, followed by another hit out of the line and they cut the deficit to 20-19. Keeley Schmitt put one down as did Paige McDermott and they suddenly led, 21-20. Marion answered with a kill from Kayba Laube but she hit into the net on her next attempt, putting the home team up 22-21. McDermott added a kill for a 23-21 advantage, dwindled to 23-22 on a Delaney Rice block. Then Jada Wills stepped in for the game-ending kills, two of her 18 on the night.
The Blazers built an early 6-1 lead in the second game, upped it to 10-2, saw the Indians come back and cut it to 11-7 before the Blazers went back up and led 20-10. Then the Indians started to take it seriously, getting a kill from Trinity Zika, block from Elise Mahaffy and a series of Blazer mistakes to cut the margin to 20-16. Wills put one down and Kylee Rueber and Kiersten Schmitt combined for a block after another extended volley to get to 24-18. A missed set gave point 19 back but Schmitt came up with the game-ending block.
Things reversed in game three. Marion built the early lead and the Blazers fought back to tie the game and go ahead 7-5 on a twisting back-handed kill from Wills. They led 15-11 when the Indians fought back within 15-14, but Wills took charge from there. Point 16 came on such a strong kill she knocked down the Marion player and the entire Beckman student section reacted by falling back on the bleachers as well. The next three straight were also Wills’ kills, for a 19-14 lead. Marion’s Rice got a slim one back but Wills answered with a shot down the side to lead 20-15.
The final Indian point came on a miss from the Blazers but then Wills took it back again with another kill, her sixth straight, 21-16. She moved to the service line and the next point came on a block from Rueber and Kiersten Schmitt, followed by a Schmitt kill and a Wills ace. When Marion received a Wills serve and hit it out of bounds, the match was done.
Coach Todd Troutman said, “It was a great atmosphere in our gym Tuesday night. When our student crowd is engaged and into the match, the girls bring so much more energy to the court. Marion is a very talented team and both teams played at a high level for the entire match.
“We battled back from a three-point deficit late in the first set, which allowed us to close out the victory and bring some momentum to the next set. I thought Marion served us as tough as anyone and we struggled to get our offense on track at times, but again we battled and slowly pulled away in the last two games. It was probably our best-sustained effort of the year.”
Beckman’s leaders were: serving — Paige McDermott 22-of-22, Wills 11-of-11, Makayla Koelker 13-of-14, Ashley Engelken 8-of-8, Leah Wessels 7-of-8, Nell McDermott 5-of-8, Jadyn Welling 2-of-2; aces —Paige McDermott three, Wills two, Engelken one; blocks – Rueber six, Schmitt four, Wills two, Haley LeGrand, Paige McDermott and Keeley Schmitt one; kills — Wills 18, Chloe Ungs six, Paige McDermott and Kiersten Schmitt five, Rueber two, LeGrand and Keeley Schmitt one; digs — Olivia Hogan 25, Wills 18, Engelken 13, Paige McDermott 11, Koelker nine, Wessels eight, Ungs two, Welling, Nell McDermott and Kiersten Schmitt one; assists — Wessels 18, Koelker 11, Hogan three, Paige McDermott and Engelken two, Kiersten Schmitt one.
Sept. 12 found the Blazers in Vinton-Shellsburg for a quad with Oelwein, Solon and the hosts.
Beckman produced another set of easy wins, after stumbling a bit in the opening game with Solon to fall 25-22, then coming back to take the next two, 25-9, 15-13. Beckman beat Oelwein, 25-10, 25-14; and V-S, 25-14, 25-14.
Troutman was not pleased with this tourney. “These matches were nothing like Tuesday. We brought very little energy and made a ton of mental mistakes and physical errors. We never really got into any kind of flow on offense and were lucky to get by a Solon team that probably had more talent than we gave them credit for. Hopefully, we learned a lesson to bring our ‘A game’ every night.
“Oelwein is having a very tough year and we handled them with little trouble. In our match with V-S, we showed glimpses of the kind of team we want to be but again had too many moments where we didn’t execute like we needed to. The best thing that can be said about the night is we got out of there with three wins.”
Combined stats for the three matches include: serving — Wills 35-of-36, Nell McDermott 25-of-25, Hogan 23-of-23, Paige McDermott 24-of-26, Koelker 16-of-17, Wessels 13-of-14, Kiersten Schmitt 7-of-7, Welling 5-of-5; aces — Wills, Koelker and Nell McDermott four, Paige McDermott two; kills — Wills 19, Kiersten Schmitt 13, Ungs and Paige McDermott 10, Rueber four, Lauren Osterhaus two, Keeley Schmitt one; blocks — Rueber seven, Wills six, Ungs, Paige McDermott and Kiersten Schmitt two; digs — Wills 11, Hogan eight, Wessels six, Koelker and Nell McDermott five, Ungs and Paige McDermott three, Kiersten Schmitt one; assists — Koelker 26, Wessels 21, Kiersten Schmitt eight.
The Blazers took their coach’s words to heart at the Iowa City West Caroline Found Invitational Sept. 14, where the Blazers won the Silver Bracket.
In six matches, they lost just one, to Mount Vernon, the No. 1 team in Class 4A, and went three games with the powerhouse, 21-19, 23-25, 8-15. It was their second game in Pool Two play, the first a two-game win from Cedar Rapids Prairie, 21-16, 21-17. They opened the day in Pool One with wins over Cedar Rapids Washington, 21-6, 21-12; and Wahlert, 23-21, 21-11.
“We started the day with Washington and took control of the match relatively easy. Our second match with Wahlert was a different story. We had to battle for every point and ended up playing one of our best matches of the year in defeating them 2-0.
“In the second pool, we started with a very tough Prairie team. They played very good defense and forced us into a number of errors, but we eventually pulled away for the win. Against Mount Vernon, we played excellent volleyball for long periods of time. We took a very well-played game one and had a couple different opportunities to take game two and the match, but we made a few errors in crucial situations to allow Mount Vernon the 25-23 win. We never really got untracked in game three and they were able to tale that game and the match.
“In our tournament bracket, we faced currently ranked No. 10 Class 4A Clear Creek-Amana. They have a couple of very talented hitters but we were able to control the match.
“That put us in the finals (of the Silver Bracket) against Wahlert again and they were looking to even things up, I felt we really locked in mentally for this match, the best we have all year. We maintained focus and were able to finish off the tough rallies when we needed to.
“Hopefully, this tournament is something we can draw upon in the future. I really feel our team got a lot better this weekend.”
Beckman’s leaders were: serving — Engelken 65-of-67, Nell McDermott 44-of-46, Koelker 43-of-46, Paige McDermott 39-of-45, Wills 35-of-40, Wessels 9-of-10, Kiersten Schmitt 11-of-13; aces — Engelken and Wills six, Nell McDermott four, Paige McDermott three, Koelker two; kills — Wills 60, Kiersten Schmitt 29, Paige McDermott 23, Rueber five, LeGrand three, Keeley Schmitt one; blocks — Paige McDermott eight, Rueber and Kiersten Schmitt five, Wills and Keeley Schmitt three, Wessels one; digs — Hogan 33, Wills 29, Engelken 17, Kiersten Schmitt 15,Koelker 13, Paige McDermott seven, Keeley Schmitt four, Nell McDermott and Ungs one; assists — Koelker 57, Kiersten Schmitt 35, Wessels 21, Hogan five.