The Western Dubuque volleyball team displayed some early season magic as the Bobcats swept Wahlert in a Mississippi Valley Conference clash in Epworth, Aug. 31. The Bobcats were beaten by Dike-New Hartford in their semifinal match-up at the Shirley Ryan Invitational in Mount Vernon, Sept. 4.

The Bobcats got their week rolling by taking care of Wahlert in three quick sets (25-15, 25-13, 25-20).

The Bobcats took an early 5-3 lead in the opening set, but the Golden Eagles settled into the match and answered right back to tie things up at 5-5. Wahlert even held an 8-6 lead until Meredith Bahl started her serve rotation. After Franny Heiberger’s kill put the home team up 10-8, the ‘Cats took off from there getting all the hard offensive swings during the longest rally of the match to take a three-point lead that grew to 18-10 on a kill by Maddie Harris. The Bobcats closed the first set on a 7-4 run that they carried into the rest of the match and cruised to their second win of the season.

“It was fun. We’ve talked about wanting to get into a rhythm for a whole match and tonight we did that,” said coach Megan Scherrman. “We had a little bit of a rough start, but after that, I thought they did really good defensively, offensively, serving, everything we needed to do. We were kind of a well-oiled machine tonight. That’s kind of what we’ve been looking to do and the kind of team that we know we can be.”

Madison Maahs had a lot to do with how easily the Bobcats won because she distributed the ball all over the court, taking advantage of the front-line match-ups.

“That’s Maddy Maahs doing her thing and that’s why we love her. I thought she did a great job of distributing the ball and really working on getting the ball to our middles to get the heat off of our outside hitters, she just knows when to do that,” said Scherrman. “She does such a good job of knowing who to get the ball to and when to get the ball to them.”

Maddy Harris was also offensively dominant as she recorded a team-high 16 kills, many of them coming from the back row.

“That’s another offensive player who we really need to be productive in all our matches this year,” said Scherrman. “We have a tough group at the net and if we can add an offensive threat to our back row that will make a big difference for us in the long run. The biggest thing for us is we haven’t peaked yet. We’re playing better each match and that’s something we want to continue to do. We just need to just keep getting better every day.”

Another area the Bobcats have seen a huge improvement in is serve efficiency. As a team against Wahlert, the Bobcats served 94.6%. They might not have had many aces, only three, but by getting their serve in play to the correct spot the Bobcats were able to win many easy points.

Western Dubuque then traveled to Mount Vernon where they swept their way through pool play taking care of Nevada 2-0 (21-14, 21-9), Des Moines Christian 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) and Waterloo Columbus 2-0 (21-12, 21-14) to make it to the round of eight.

That’s where the Bobcats beat Mount Vernon in the quarterfinals (25-20, 25-21) to earn the right to play Dike-New Hartford in the semi-finals. The Wolverines, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, looked to already be in state tournament form as they beat Western Dubuque 25-14 and 25-13 to move on to the championship game where they took care of Beckman in two straight sets to take the title (25-21, 25-13).

WD’s leaders vs Wahlert were: kills — Harris 16, Bahl 12, Lansing seven, Maahs three, Franny Heiberger, Anna Kluesner and Hailey Wulfekuhle one; assists — Maahs 38; digs — Ella Meyer 17, Harris and Natalie Ulrichs 14, Bahl 10, Maahs four, Emma Kapler one; blocks — Lansing four, Bahl two, Kluesner and Wulfekuhle one; serves — Maahs 13-of-13, Bahl 12-of-12, Meyer 6-of-6, Harris 20-of-21, Ulrichs 8-of-9, Kapler 11-of-13; aces — Harris two, Kapler one.

WD’s leaders at Mount Vernon were: kills — Bahl 41, Harris 26, Lansing 20; assists — Maahs 95; digs — Bahl 46, Meyer 39, Ulrichs 32, Harris 20, Kapler 17.