Coming into the week after going 0-7 the previous week, the Maquoketa Valley volleyball team had to regroup. And regroup they did, defeating Springville, 3-0, on the road, Sept. 29, to start the week and ending with a win on Senior Night over Alburnett, 3-0.
Facing a Springville team that was 17-1, Maquoketa Valley won 25-23, 25-19, 25-18.
Emerson Whittenbaugh delivered 29 kills to lead the Wildcat attack. Taya Tucker added 12.
Maquoketa Valley came up big defensively, with 21 digs from Ella Imler, 17 from Emerson Whittenbaugh, Payton Beamon 13 and Avery Krapfl 12.
The Wildcats struggled in their blocking game the previous week, but came up with 13 against the Orioles, led by Krista Ries with five. Tucker added three and Beamon two.
Coach Brandy Whittenbaugh credited her team with making adjustments. “We did a few lineup changes and our blocking was very good. Springville swings away and it makes it easier to get quality blocks. The blocking game put a little pressure on them and they started pushing the ball a lot and our back row defense was on point. Our offense did a great job not only swinging but playing smart and finding open holes. We really mixed things up and I was happy with the way we finally were able to finish.”
Returning home for Senior Night Oct. 1, the Wildcats had to adjust again with Carissa Sabers and Kylie Chesnut out of the lineup. The Wildcats won 25-22, 25-23, 25-18, but it may have been the second game that could set the stage for a deep run for the Wildcats in the postseason.
In game one, Maquoketa Valley never trailed. After leading 15-10, Alburnett tied things at 16-16 before the Wildcats took control.
In game two, the Wildcats led 12-10 before Alburnett ran off seven points for a 17-12 lead. Alburnett led 23-18 before Imler got the serve and never gave it up. Maquoketa Valley rallied for the win, with a kill by Emerson Whittenbaugh delivering the final point.
That win set the stage for game three, which saw the Wildcats in control the entire time.
Emerson Whittenbaugh led the offense with 18 kills. She also earned her 1,000th career dig, ending the night with 17. She joins Imler as a member of the 1,000-career dig club. Imler led the defense with 23 digs.
Kennedy Rausch and Krapfl were each 12-of-12 serving.
“We had a wrench thrown at us late in the day but made some quick adjustments,” coach Brandy Whittenbaugh explained. “We had to replace our biggest blocker and our setter, which is never an easy task and a lot to ask from your bench. I thought the girls that stepped into those roles did a good job.”
She discussed her team’s rebound from the week before. “We had an emotional homecoming week and played a lot of good competition during that time, but overall, it made us a better team. We got down in the second match but with my seniors and their leadership, don’t ever count them out.”
With both Emerson Whittenbaugh and Imler with 1000 career digs, Coach Brandy Whittenbaugh said those accomplishments don’t happen without a strong team. “None of that happens without their teammates and I know how grateful they both are to have such dedicated teammates. The seniors deserved that win and it was great to celebrate them.”