Western Dubuque’s top rating in Class 4A volleyball team lived up to its ranking Sept. 23 at the school when they topped a feisty Beckman team (seventh in Class 2A) in three games, 25-23, 26-24, 25-20.
None of the three games was an easy win for the Bobcats. They led by three early in the first game, but the Blazers edged ahead 4-3 on a Bobcat mishit. Traded points put the teams at 6-6 before the Bobcats went on a four-point run, 10-6. Three came back for the Blazers, on a Kam Klas kill and blocks by Jenna Lansing and Lauren Osterhaus. But Harris ended that with a solid kill, 11-9. It was 12-10 when Lansing put a ball down, Pirc and Schmitt blocked and Schmitt added a kill to edge ahead again, 13-12. They traded kills again, 14-14 when the Bobcats added two more, one a block from Libby Lansing and Meredith Bahl, for a 16-14 advantage.
Back came the Blazers, up 19-18 with kills from Schmitt and a tip from Klas. A Bobcat block tied it at 19-19 and that’s the way the rest of the game stayed, constantly tied until both teams reached 23. A Pirc block fell just out and Harris delivered a game-winning ace.
Game two began the same, strings of points tied by the opponents. Bahl put down an ace to knot it at 7-7 and neither team could build much traction. Finally, the Blazers got points strung together, breaking a 12-12 tie to lead 15-12 before a mistake gave the Bobcats side out. Anna Kluesner blocked a solid shot from Schmitt for a 14-15 mark before the Blazers went on a five-point run, getting kills from Lauren Osterhaus, Schmitt and Klas and a Pirc/Osterhaus block to lead 20-15. But that bugaboo that carried over from Tuesday night’s match doomed Klas to a missed serve to allow the Bobcats to begin to climb back in. Three Blazer mistakes, a Harris tip and ace and the game was tied again, 20-20.
Ella Meyer hit net on her serve for the Blazers’ point 21, knotted with a Harris kill. The Bobcats edged ahead with a ball long from Jenna Lansing, but Natalie Ulrichs returned the favor, 22-22. Harris pounded another kill, matched by Schmitt, 23-23. Bahl then matched Schmitt, 24-24, but both Harris and Bahl got kills to go down for the 26-24 win.
It was more of the same in game three, little leads matched by the opponent. The Blazers went up 15-11 on back-to-back kills from Schmitt but the Bobcats took advantage of a double block from Libby Lansing and Maddy Maahs, a questionable call and a Harris kill to cut the margin to 14-15 and force a Blazer timeout. Schmitt floored point 16 but served into the net to give it back and when her teammates blocked a shot out, the score was tied again, 16-16.
Schmitt put them up, 17-16, but the Bobcats tacked on three, from Bahl and Harris kills and a called double hit on Blazer setter Leah Wessels, 19-17. Osterhaus killed that run, 18-19, but Libby Lansing put them back up two, 21-19. A long volley of an Ulrichs serve ended with a Bobcat point, 22-19 and the final Blazer point came off a Jenna Lansing kill. Harris answered, then dished two aces to end the match.
“That was quite the match,” exclaimed Bobcat coach Megan Scherrman. “No, I didn’t expect to win in three games but I’m glad we did. They are a really good team. But we had our ‘A game’ tonight, we played the volleyball I know we can always play. If our girls are consistent, we win. I tell them we have to play steady volleyball from the very first point of the very first game to the last point of however many games we need to win. If we play consistent volleyball for all 25 points, we will win.
“Our passing was tough tonight and gave Maddy the balls she needed to distribute. She does such a good job getting them to the hitters. We’ve moved the hitters around some, not keeping them on the outside so much, but with them in the middle more, we make it tougher to defend.
“I was not happy with our serving, though to give the girls credit, we did try to be very aggressive at the line. That often makes mistakes. Sometimes you just have to take them and hope there are not too many of them.”
Beckman coach Todd Troutman was not as thrilled about the games. “Once again, our passing and serving let us down. We didn’t finish games. We had leads in all three games and relatively late in all three games and to their credit, Western Dubuque did a better job of finishing the games than we did.”
Individual Bobcat stats: serving — Bahl 11-of-11, Emma Kapler 9-of-9, Harris 13-of-14, Ulrichs 14-of-16, Maahs and Ellie Meyer 9-of-12; aces — Harris two, Meyer, Bahl and Maahs one; kills — Harris 18, Bahl 13, Lansing six, Franny Heiberger two, Kluesner and Maahs one; blocks — Lansing five, Bahl three, Maahs two, Harris, Kluesner and Hailey Wulfekuhle one; digs — Meyer 21, Ulrichs 17, Maahs 11, Bahl nine, Harris eight, Heiberger and Emma Kapler one; assists — Maahs 39, Meyer one.
Individual Blazer stats: serving — Wessels 11-of-11, Klas 11-of-12, Hogan 7-of-8, Lansing 12-of-14, Osterhaus 8-of-10, Schmitt 7-of-9; aces — Lansing two; kills – Schmitt 17, Klas seven, Lansing six, Osterhaus five, Pirc, Wessels and Reese Osterhaus one; blocks — Lansing and Pirc two, Schmitt and Klas one; digs — Hogan 31, Schmitt 16, Klas nine, Reese Osterhaus eight, Wessels five, Pirc and Lansing four, Lauren Osterhaus three; assists — Wessels 33, Hogan three, Pirc one.