Western Dubuque started the second week of the season 0-3 and in big need of squeezing out a win any way they could. Well, the young scrappy squad from Epworth got that win and a whole lot more as they blasted past Dubuque Senior in four sets (22-25, 25-19, 30-28, 25-12) in Dubuque Sept. 3.
With that much-needed win under their belt, the Bobcats beat three ranked teams in Class 5A at the Iowa City, City High Invitational Sept. 7.
During their Mississippi Valley Conference match against Dubuque Senior, the Bobcats outlasted the Rams in the third set and came from behind to pull out a 30-28 win which just might have been the switch that turned on the light for the Bobcats’ season.
“We know that we can battle. That is not a factor anymore or anything we need to wonder or worry about. But we can’t be OK with that. We need to focus on our side of the court and work on cutting down our errors,” said Megan Scherrman, head coach of the Bobcats, after beating the Rams. “They can do it. They know they can, but they have to be that well-oiled machine all the time. They just can’t rely on late-game heroics to get them through. I told them not to be OK with winning 30-28. We need to come out and play 25 solid points, and we need to dominate from the first serve.”
The Bobcats quickly finished off the Rams 25-12 in the fourth set and then started working on getting themselves ready to battle against the most talented tournament field they will face all season long. However, instead of just looking at it as just another early season tournament, the Bobcats looked at it as an opportunity to learn more about themselves and possibly make a statement along the way.
After falling in straight sets to Lewis Central (21-16, 21-18), the sixth-ranked team in Class 4A, the Bobcats got their mojo going.
Western Dubuque swept host 5A’s 10th-ranked City High (21-10, 21-16) and 5A’s 11th-ranked Bettendorf (21-19; 21-14). Next up for the Bobcats was Ankeny Centennial, the reigning Class 5A state champion currently ranked sixth. WD didn’t sweep but did out-battle the champs in three sets (16-21; 21-11; 15-11).
“They played awesome. Their mental game was solid,” said Scherrman. “They played so smart. We talked about it after the match against Senior that we need to make sure we are earning our points and we don’t give the other team points they don’t deserve. They did that so well at Iowa City.”
The Bobcats got contributions from all their players as they had a different kills leader in each of their matches. Meredith Bahl had nine kills in the match against Iowa City. Maddie Harris had nine against Bettendorf. Against Ankeny Centennial the Bobcats had three swingers with at least five but Meg Besler had a match-high seven to help them come away with their third straight upset.
“Our offense did such a good job of mixing the ball up and hitting it everywhere around the court and seeing what was open. Defensively, they were reading better what the other teams were doing and we were picking up the ball better,” said Scherrman. “Maddy Maahs just did her thing. She was dishing out the ball everywhere it needed to go. It was a great day.”
Maahs accounted for 61 of the team’s assists in the four matches and also served up five aces.
The Bobcats’ leaders for the week were: kills — Harris 37, Bahl 32, Besler 23, Kaylee Elgin 13; assists — Maahs 100; digs — Ella Meyer 46, Bahl 41, Maahs 22, Claire Horsfield 21, Harris 17; blocks — Besler, Elgin and Libby Lansing nine Bahl six; serves — Maahs 48-of-53, Harris 48-of-54, Elgin 37-of-41; aces — Meyer seven, Maahs six, Harris and Horsfield five, Elgin four, Bahl three.