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Libby Lansing blocks the ball during Western Dubuque’s match with Iowa City Liberty in the Mississippi Valley Conference quad played at Epworth, Oct. 13.

The Western Dubuque volleyball team completed the regular season by taking second place in the Mississippi Valley Conference quad hosted by the Bobcats, Oct. 13.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MVC officials decided to hold four-team quads at four different locations allowing each team to play three matches to determine the winner at each location. Iowa City Liberty (20-2), the sixth-ranked team in Class 5A, swept all three matches to claim the championship at Epworth.

The Bobcats went 2-1 blasting Waterloo West in two sets (25-21, 25-17), falling to Iowa City Liberty (23-25, 18-25) and outlasting Dubuque Senior in three sets (25-12, 22-25, 15-12).

In their match against Iowa City, the Bobcats could never get over the hump to get the lead in the opening set as they were down from the start. The Lightening quickly jumped out to a 6-1 lead and all the Bobcats could do was dig in and fight back. Consecutive kills by Meredith Bahl and Meg Besler cut the lead to one, down 11-10. Iowa City jumped back out to an 18-14 advantage, but once again the Bobcats clawed their way back but could never get closer than two points. Down 19-17, 20-18, 23-21 and 24-22, the Bobcats fought but couldn’t get control of the set as the Lightening was able to side out to earn a 25-23 win in the opener. In set two, the two teams fought back and forth with 10 lead changes. The Bobcats made their last push when they were down 18-15. Besler hammered a kill and Libby Lansing followed with a roof block. They tied the game at 18-18 and then Lightning struck running off seven straight points to close out the match.

“It was a good four-point battle in the first set. It was just two rotations that we let them go on a little bit of a run and we just couldn’t catch up. That happens against good teams when you’re down and it’s just hard to fight back,” said Megan Scherrman, the Bobcats’ head coach. “Offensively we struggled hitting the ball into the block.”

Things went a little better for Western Dubuque in their match against Dubuque Senior. The Bobcats were never threatened in the opening set as Madison Maahs served them to an 8-0 lead. The Rams got back to within six points at 13-7, but that would be as close as they would get with the Bobcats winning 12 of the next 17 points to win the set 25-12.

Late in the second set, the Rams found their way as they fought back and even held a 20-16 lead. The teams were tied at 21-21, but the Rams, playing like the team who wanted to win more, ended up taking the set 25-22.

The sprint was on in the third set with both teams fighting to get control. With the set tied at 8-8, the Bobcats raced to an 11-8 advantage thanks to a kill by Besler, ace by Maci Steffen and a kill by Lansing. Two kills by Besler, a block by Lansing and a match-clinching kill by Bahl closed out the match and the regular season for the Bobcats.

“I think we’re at a point were we are ready for postseason,” said Scherrman. “The pressure is on from here on out, but this is a team that I know can handle that pressure. We did it all last year, but this is a new year. We can’t dwell on the success we had last year, so we have to prove ourselves again this year and that starts tomorrow.”

WD’s leaders at MVC Quad: kills — Bahl 27, Besler 25, Harris 17, Libby Lansing nine, Maahs six, Maci Steffen two; assists — Maahs 78; digs — Ella Meyer 38, Bahl and Natalie Ulrichs 18, Harris 13, Maahs 12, Steffen three; blocks — Lansing four, Harris two, Bahl, Besler and Steffen one; serves — Ulrichs 17-of-17, Harris 25-of-26, Bahl 24-of-25, Steffen 28-of-30, Meyer 18-of-20, Maahs 31-of-34; aces— Harris and Maahs two each, Bahl and Meyer one.