That Bobcat magic, like the volleyball team, is still alive and well inside the Alliant Energy Power House in Cedar Rapids.
With Bobcat Nation loudly supporting their team, the Western Dubuque volleyball team pulled off a huge comeback to beat Sergeant Bluff-Luton 3-2 (25-14, 19-25, 25-20, 25-13, 15-11) Nov. 2 in their Class 4A state quarterfinal thriller.
“We were the team that wanted it more today. We were going to do anything to earn each point,” said Madison Maahs, junior setter for the Bobcats. “We were down two sets in the quarterfinals last year and fought back too, so we knew it could be done.
“It helps that we are so close to each other. We can just look at each other and know that we have to fight even harder to get the next point. During this match it came to the point where there might not be a next one so we knew we had to do it now or never,” said Maahs.
After dominating the first set, 25-14, the Bobcats (25-10) found themselves down two sets to one and facing extinction. Libby Lansing, who was basically unstoppable all match long, got the ball back into the hands of their servers with a kill that put the Bobcats up 6-5. Ella Meyer took advantage of that opportunity as she stretched the Bobcats lead to 12-5, a lead the Warriors (23-7) would never challenge. Natalie Ulrichs’ four-point surge on her serve got the Bobcats to set point, which they earned on a service error by the Warriors.
The Bobcats were the first team to return to the court for the fifth set as they were more than ready to begin the all-important winner-move-on sprint to 15 points. Neither team was able to get a lead until Lansing recorded kills on consecutive plays to put the Bobcats up 6-4. The Warriors fought right back to tie the set at 6-6. The two teams traded points, but it was another service error by the Warriors that put the serve in the hands of Maahs. Kills by Maci Steffen and Meredith Bahl put the Bobcats up 10-7. Bahl’s kill put the serve in her hands at 11-8 and after a kill by Maddie Harris, the ‘Cats roared to a 13-8 lead. Again the two teams traded points, but it was a service error, the 17th in the match for the Warriors, that sealed the Bobcats’ win in a rematch of last year’s title game.
“Our goal was to keep the ball away from their libero and we needed to make sure that we kept them out of system by trying to give the ball to their setter as much as possible,” said Megan Scherrman, head coach of the Bobcats. “We got away from some of those little things in the two sets we lost, but these girls dug back in and they did exactly what they needed to do in order to win.”
“It was just our communication that we were lacking. We’re a very close team and when we communicate we know that we can win. We got this,” said Bahl about her team’s two set lapse. “We trust each other so much and once we started to communicate we got back to playing Bobcat volleyball. We were playing for one another. We just really wanted to win that game.”
The Bobcats once again looked to their four-headed attack to lead the way to victory. Meg Belser might have had 13 kills to lead the way for the ‘Cats, but it was Lansing, with 12 kills, who was the one they looked to all match long when they really needed a point.
“We’re still alive. We’re still here fighting to achieve our goal of a state championship,” said Maahs “Libby Lansing is a big reason why we are still here. She played a hell of a game.”
“Libby had a great game and we had to continue to get her the ball, but in order to give your middle the ball you’ve got to pass well and that kind of shut us down in games two and three, but then it came back around for us,” said Scherrman. “I knew this team wasn’t ever going to give up. I knew we weren’t going to lay down and die for them.”
Lansing and Harris each had 12 kills for the Bobcats and Bahl added 10. Maahs dished out 44 assists and kept everyone involved in this match.
“It was really crazy. Honestly, I felt like the block wasn’t even there today. I was just swinging and I knew where I was going with the ball,” said Lansing about her big day. “Once we got our pass figured out we rolled. I think we were really fun to watch today, but I know I had a lot of fun playing today.”
WD’s leaders against Sergeant Bluff-Luton were: kills — Besler 13, Harris and Lansing 12, Bahl 10, Maahs two; assists — Maahs 44; digs — Ella Meyer 21, Bahl 14, Natalie Ulrichs 13, Harris nine, Besler and Maahs five; blocks — Lansing five, Besler two, Bahl, Harris and Steffen one; serves — Ulrichs 21-of-21, Maahs 19-of-19, Bahl 20-of-21, Harris 16-of-17; aces — Bahl, Harris and Meyer two.