The loud sound you heard at 8:46 the evening of Oct. 30 was the roar coming from Bobcat Nation as the Western Dubuque volleyball team won the final point locking up their stunning, 3-1, upset victory over Wahlert in Dubuque.
The battling Bobcats blasted their way to the Class 4A Region 7 Final with their victory over the reigning Class 4A state champions on their home court (25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 25-21).
“That’s exactly what we worked so hard for. Our side did exactly what they needed to do. Our Bobcats played exactly how they needed to play to win this match,” said Megan Scherrman, head coach of the Bobcats, after the match. “They battled and they fought and they did it.”
“I’m in disbelief,” said Maddie Harris after the exciting win. “This is what we’ve worked for all season. We knew it was going to come down to us having to beat Wahlert to keep our season alive. This is kind of crazy. I’m just so happy that we came out with a win.”
“It took everything we had. We knew we could do it from the start, but we knew it was going to take all six of us on the court. We prepared all week and it really showed,” said Madison Maahs, sophomore setter for the Bobcats. “We had a lot of players just do their job. We all did our job which made each of us come out and play our best.”
From the opening volley, this Bobcat squad played with energy and respect for what was at stake. The match had a serious state volleyball vibe as both sides exploded after winning key points in each set, but in the end, it was Western Dubuque’s night.
“There were a lot of doubters out here tonight, but the biggest thing for us was we believed in ourselves and each other and our team,” said Harris. “We knew what we had going for us and we showed them what Bobcat volleyball is all about.”
Wahlert fired a lot of shots in the first set to try to get separation from the Bobcats, but every Golden Eagle run was matched by one from the Bobcats. Wahlert made a big move as the Golden Eagles scored six straight points to take a 19-15 lead. After a short two-point run by the Bobcats, Wahlert grew the lead to 21-18. A service error gave the Bobcats a much-needed side out but kills by Maahs and Harris tied the game at 21 and another point by Western Dubuque caused Wahlert to call a timeout. The Golden Eagles tied the game at 22, but the Bobcats scored the next three points to close out the set, 25-22.
In the second set, it was the Golden Eagles playing catch up when the Bobcats went on an early five-point roll to take an 8-3 lead. Wahlert closed to within one point at 14-13 and again at 15-14 after both teams traded side outs, but the Bobcats were just too much in this set. They seized a 23-17 lead and earned two side outs to take the set 25-22 and hold a very strong 2-0 lead in the match.
“I’ve said it since June that this group is just a bunch of ballers. They just come in and fight. They don’t care what other people think of them or how they play. They’re going to play their game on their side of the net. To them, it doesn’t matter what the score is,” said Scherrman. “We knew from the start that this is a special group. It took us a while to get here, but here we are.”
After dropping the third set, 25-18, the Bobcats regrouped and went to work with their eyes set on sending Wahlert packing. The Bobcats held comfortable leads at 8-3 and 11-6, but Wahlert wasn’t planning on going quietly as they stormed back to take a 16-15 lead. A kill by Meredith Bahl earned the Bobcats a side out and another kill by Bahl and one from Kaylee Elgin keyed a four-point run to give the Bobcats a 19-16 lead. The Golden Eagles struggled to stay close, but the Bobcats managed to score six of the next 11 points to pull out the hard-fought win.
“Playing as a team is what is making us so successful right now. We’ve got Ella Meyer just digging balls back there. We’ve got Maddy Maahs dishing it out and we’ve got five just deadly offensive players in the front row. I think that’s big,” said Scherrman about the balance of her team. “We’ve run across teams who have one or two threats on the front line, but I’m not worried about giving the ball to any one of our front row players and I think that’s what makes us so versatile and dangerous right now.”
“We know we still have work to do. We have to come in tomorrow and work harder than we did this past week,” said Maahs. “It’s just going to take all six of us like it did tonight to get us down to Cedar Rapids where we want to be.”
Bobcat leaders against Wahlert were: kills — Harris 16, Bahl 15, Meg Besler five, Kaylee Elgin four, Maahs two; assists — Maahs 38, Meyer one; digs — Meyer 22, Bahl 12, Harris 11, Claire Horsfield nine, Maahs five, Besler three, Elgin two; blocks — Lansing six, Bahl four, Besler and Harris three, Elgin one; serves — Meyer 20-of-20, Elgin 11-of-11, Bahl 17-of-18, Maahs 12-of-13; aces — Bahl two, Harris and Meyer one.