Maquoketa Valley earned just its fourth win of a trying season in an upset of Tri-Rivers foe Edgewood-Colesburg Sept. 24 at Delhi in a four-game match.
The Wildcats overpowered their northern opponents in the first two games, winning by identical 25-13 scores, faltered a bit in game three to lose, 25-15, and then claimed the match with a 25-17 fourth game win.
A sign of things to come was the beginning of the first game. The Wildcats got an Emerson Whittenbaugh kill to snatch serve from the Vikings and added three straight points to lead 4-0. A missed kill from Ed-Co made it 8-5 and gave serve back to the Wildcats and Taya Tucker, who served the next eight straight points, taking advantage of a raft of Viking mis-hits and misses, to lead 16-5 and basically end the game. The Vikings did battle back but a Whittenbaugh ace gave MV point 23, followed by another ball hit long by the Vikings to make it 24-12. Kelsey Hansel did pound one down for their 13th point but Tucker and Payton Beaman combined for the game-ending block.
Game two was another series of runs from the Wildcats leading to advantages of 6-3, 8-4, 10-6 that grew to 14-6, again on Tucker’s service. Annie Hoffman got a block and kill before Ed-Co served long, something they suffered from all night, making it 18-9. Traded aces and kills grew the margin to 19-10 when Carissa Sabers took serve for the Wildcats. When she was done, they led 24-10, and despite a little three-point run from the Vikings, finished the game with a Kylie Chesnut kill off a short set.
In game three the Vikings showed some life. The teams traded the early points until a three-straight kill effort from Hansel gave them a 10-3 lead. They took a page from the Wildcats’ book and reeled off another five straight points on Wildcat misses building that to 18-6. A couple mistakes that included the often-called double hit and a net call on the Vikings gave the Wildcats a little hope, cutting the margin to 18-11, but the mistakes traveled to their side of the net and they went back down 21-11.
The Vikings made it 24-12 on another series of Wildcat mistakes but saw the Wildcats rebound behind Tucker kills, a Beaman kill and Whittenbaugh ace to trail by 24-15. It just wasn’t enough when that vilifying double hit call on their last serve gave the game to Ed-Co.
Neither side of the gym knew what to expect in game four, pretty much planning on a five-game match with the Viking resurgence. “But when you miss the first four serves of your game, it’s pretty hard to have enough confidence in the other parts of the game to win,” said Viking coach Eileen Bergan. Those misses led to an 8-6 Wildcat advantage that grew to 18-6 on another Tucker marathon of serves. When she finally served long to send serve to Viking Ella Aulwes, the Vikings hoped to ride that back into the game.
Wildcat miscues cut the Viking margin to 18-10 before a call in the net and another double hit put the Wildcats up 20-10. Aulwes and Chezney Priem combined for a block but Priem’s serve, you guessed it, went out and the Wildcats regained their 10-point advantage. Sabers notched an ace on her first serve, 22-11, Whittenbaugh put down point 23 but a double hit gave it back to the Vikings, 23-12. Whittenbaugh went long, and Hansel got two kills and a tip before another double hit call cut the margin to 23-17. But Hansel’s next attack went long and a rare out-of-order call ended the game.
“I was concerned when we came tonight,” said Bergan. “They had played us tough at the West Delaware Tourney and that was without Emerson (Whittenbaugh). We have been inconsistent and I wanted us to stretch our offense. But we didn’t do well on the back row attacks. On top of that when you can’t believe in your serving what can you believe in?”
Wildcat coach Brandi Whittenbaugh added, “I thought the girls did a great job. I was especially happy with our blocking game. It was much improved. It was a total team effort but Taya did very well out of the middle for us and that was a difference-maker.
“Our serving was key for us as well with a number of ace serves. What we need to focus on most is cutting out those small runs that teams make on us and then play better point for point.”
The win moves the Wildcats to 4-7 on the season, the Vikings to 11-6.
Individual stats for the Wildcats include: serving — Sabers 21-of-21, Tucker 23-of-24, Ella Imler 14-of-14, Allie Knipper 10-of-10, Whittenbaugh 10-of-12, Beaman 8-of-8; aces — Tucker and Whittenbaugh three, Beaman and Sabers one; blocks — Tucker and Sabers five, Whittenbaugh four, Helle and Chesnut two, Beaman one; kills — Whittenbaugh 11, Tucker 10, Lydia Helle, Beaman and Chesnut two; digs — Imler 16, Whittenbaugh 11, Sabers, Knipper and Beaman five, Tucker four, Helle three; assists — Sabers 18, Helle two, Whittenbaugh, Beaman and Chesnut one.
Viking statistics include: serving — Bailee Helle 12-of-12, Mariah Zittergruen 15-of-16, Priem 11-of-13, Aulwes, Hoffman and Hansel 4-of-6, Rose Heuchlin 5-of-7, Hailey Rausch 1-of-2; aces — Hoffman, Helle and Hansel one; kills — Hansel 17, Hoffman seven, Natalie Wessel five, Helle four, Aulwes three, Rausch one; blocks — Hoffman three, Priem two, Hansel, Rausch and Wessel one; digs — Aulwes 15, Hansel 12, Hoffman and Priem eight, Rausch seven, Heuchlin five, Helle four, Zittergruen three, Wessel one; assists — Priem 24, Aulwes two, Wessel one.