Taking the court without one of their key players is going to put the Western Dubuque volleyball team into some difficult situations over the next four to five weeks. But the Bobcats have learned the past two weeks, they can handle the heat and know that it’s only going to make them a better team come playoff time.

“I would never not say that having Meredith (Bahl) not here isn’t a loss because it is. Our girls know that, but the way they are stepping up and playing in her absence is outstanding,” said coach Megan Scherrman, after her team out-battled Cedar Rapids Prairie in the fifth set to pull out an exciting 3-2 win. “Libby Lansing is really starting to come out of her shell in the middle and all of our offensive players just know that they need to step it up. Ella Meyers is just playing outstanding defense right now. She’s giving us a chance to play every ball. So watching all of these girls playing so well and so hard with Meredith on the sidelines is really impressive.”

It took a total team effort to hold off the surging Hawks as Western Dubuque regrouped to earn the victory (25-16, 18-25, 25-17, 26-28, 15-4) at Epworth, Sept. 8, against their Mississippi Valley Conference foe. With the win the Bobcats moved to 3-1 in the Mississippi Division and Cedar Rapids Prairie dropped to 1-2.

Without Bahl on the court, an opening has been created for a few girls to get court time they normally wouldn’t have and the more stressful the game situation they play in the better volleyball team they will be when Bahl returns which, if everything stays on schedule, will be just before playoff time.

“We were a young team last year and we’re still a pretty young team this year but this group has played together for so long. We have had a lot of discussions about volleyball IQ and it’s just coming very natural to them,” said Scherrman. “There are a lot of things we don’t have to coach because they went through it last year so they are all playing at a higher level because of that experience.”

The Bobcats needed to tap into that experience as they were pushed to a fifth set after having three chances to close out the match in the fourth set.

“During the break, I told the girls that we have to worry about our side of the court. If we just worry about our side of the court and play consistent volleyball we’re a hard team to stop,” said Schermann. “Sometimes we get too involved with what’s happening on the other side of the net.

We just have to stay relaxed, stay focused and play Bobcat volleyball.”

Western Dubuque went right to work in the fifth set getting their quick offense in rhythm. After Meg Belser pounded down a couple of kills to give them some breathing room, the Bobcats stormed their way to taking the fifth set 15-4.

“There’s nothing wrong with ever going five sets and coming away with a win. Those are always fun matches and that’s what the sport of volleyball is all about,” said Schermann.

The rest of the week wasn’t as much fun for the Bobcats as they struggled at the North Scott Invitational at North Scott, Sept. 12, where they went 2-3.

The Bobcats were swept by North Scott (21-19, 21-11) and by Cedar Rapids Xavier (21-17, 22-20). They also lost their match 2-1 with Clinton (21-13, 15-21, 15-5).

Western Dubuque earned its two wins of the day when they swept Davenport West (21-12, 21-12) and beat LaPorte City-Union 2-1 (13-21, 23-21, 15-10).

When the week was over the Bobcats were 11-5 for the season.

WD’s leaders against Cedar Rapids Prairie were: kills — Besler 21, Maddie Harris 19, Lansing 13, Franny Heiberger nine, Madison Maah six, Maci Steffen four; assists — Maahs 59; digs — Meyer 36, Harris 17, Natalie Ulrichs 16, Maahs 11, Heiberger six, Belser and Steffen two, Lansing one; blocks — Besler and Lansing three, Heiberger and Steffen one; serves — Heiberger 9-of-9, Ulrich 20-of-21, Harris 24-of-26, Meyer 23-of-25; aces— Meyer five, Steffen four, Harris two, Maahs and Ulrich one.