With five starters and other key role players out due to COVID-19 exposures, the Maquoketa Valley Wildcats still found a way to win both volleyball matches last week, defeating Central City, 3-0, on the road, Oct. 6, then winning at home Oct. 8 over East Buchanan, 3-0.

The wins secured a second-place Tri-Rivers Conference finish for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats won 25-23, 25-20, 25-22 at Central City, led by Emerson Whittenbaugh’s 21 kills. Payton Beamon added nine kills.

Ella Imler came up with 24 digs, while Whittenbaugh had 20, Beamon 11 and Amaya Hunt and Kennedy Rausch 10.

Haley Ronnebaum was strong at the net, leading the team with three blocks. Krista Ries and Whittenbaugh each had a pair of blocks.

Anna Deutmeyer was 15-of-15 serving, while Rausch was 14-of-14.

Maquoketa Valley won 25-14, 25-12, 25-22 over East Buchanan. Whittenbaugh delivered 21 kills, while Taylor Schmuecker had six.

Whittenbaugh came up with three blocks, while Liz McDowell had two.

Imler led the defense with 23 digs, with Deutmeyer adding 18 and Rausch 11.

The Wildcats enjoyed a near-perfect night serving and were led by Imler (15-of-15), Schmuecker (13-of-13) and Ronnebaum (12-of-12).

Head coach Brandy Whittenbaugh praised her team’s effort. “I was super happy with our play against Central City. They were a strong team and I thought we executed well, especially with a depleted line up. The younger kids that were pulled up did an extremely good job and I can’t tell you how happy I am with my lone two seniors and their leadership during this. They give our younger girls a ton of confidence and lead by example on every play. We should be ok going into the conference tourney as we will start to get those kids back that are out.”