SHENANDOAH — In a closely-contested five-set match, Shenandoah outlasted Creston and moved ahead of the Panthers in the Hawkeye 10 race Thursday night.
The Fillies improved to 13-14 overall and 3-4 in the conference with a 12-25, 25-23, 27-25, 23-25, 15-13 victory. Creston slipped to eighth place in the league at 2-5, and 10-9 overall.
Shenandoah is lodged in a fifth-place tie at 3-4 with Clarinda and Glenwood after Thursday’s action. Clarinda, 14-9 overall with a recent five-set loss to co-leader Kuemper Catholic, is the next Panther opponent Tuesday at Creston.
Creston sailed easily in the first set Thursday, but the sophomore hitting duo of 5-11 Sydney Nielsen and 6-0 Serena Parker kept the pressure on, with Nielsen scoring nearly all of the final points in set five.
“They came to life,” Creston coach Polly Luther said. “They have two tremendous hitters they feed all the time. In the last game, we were up by three, we just couldn’t get it done. (Nielsen) was tremendous for them.”
Nielsen came into the match with 168 kills in 26 matches.
On the other side, senior Brianna Maitlen was a force at the net for Creston, finishing 39-of-47 on attacks with 19 kills. Also reaching double figures in kills were Natalie Mostek (13) and Sydney Dunphy (10). Amy Dunphy, manning the middle hitter position, was also effective at 18-22 with six kills and one assisted block. Jenna Taylor smacked seven kills.
Setter Hanna Luther was busy with 50 assists for the night. Mostek and Maitlen combined for 15 digs.
Several Panthers had good serving nights. Mostek was 20-22 with four aces, Amy Dunphy 16-18 with three aces, Haylee LaMasters perfect at 20-20 and Sam McDonald 14-15 with an ace. Maitlen finished 15-16.
“Overall, we played pretty well,” Luther said. “We earned every point we got. Maitlen had a tremendous hitting night for us. Our blockers slowed a lot of balls down for us to put back up.”
LaMasters and McDonald handled tough balls in the back row and provided playable passes, Luther noted.
“I was very proud of the way the girls came out and played tonight,” she said. “We just have to be confident enough in ourselves to know that we can finish.”
Serving (aces) — Natalie Mostek 20-22 (4), Amy Dunphy 16-18 (3), Haylee LaMasters 20-20, Brianna Maitlen 15-16, Sam McDonald 14-15 (1), Hanna Luther 11-13 (1).
Attacks (kills) — Maitlen 39-47 (19), Mostek 33-47 (13), Sydney Dunphy 26-30 (10), Amy Dunphy 18-22 (6), Jenna Taylor 20-22 (7), Sydney Rogers 2-2 (1), Luther 4-5 (2).
Blocks (solo-assists) — Maitlen 0-1, A. Dunphy 0-1, Taylor 0-1.
Setting (assists) — Luther 50, Maitlen 2, McDonald 1.
Digs — Mostek 8, Maitlen 7, LaMasters 5, McDonald 5, Rogers 2, Luther 2.
Creston’s JV swept four sets over the Shenandoah JV, 24-18, 25-18, 25-19, 16-14.
A balanced net attack featured Marie Hood with nine kills and Nicole Haley and Taylor Hudson with eight each for Creston, now 7-5.
“Our court awareness in the front row has improved a lot and that really showed tonight,” said Creston coach Mallory Peterson. “I was glad to see improvement on things we have been focusing on in practice.”
Brenna Baker distributed most of those kills, finishing with 31 setting assists while also serving 11-13 with an ace and collecting a team-high six digs.
Olivia Nielsen had two solo blocks. Jana Johnson and Ashley Harris each had two total kills, with Harris also smacking three kills. Audrey Fyock and Mackenzie Andreasen had five and three digs, respectively.
Creston freshmen swept Shenandoah, 25-18, 25-14, 25-12.
“We got off to a quick start in game one and played real well in the first two-thirds of that game,” coach Mike McCabe said. “We got strong front row play from Sydney Dunphy, Jenna Taylor and Alyssa Higgins. We go to a very strong Red Oak tournament on Saturday in a pool with Harlan, Kuemper and Glenwood.”
Creston, now 15-4-1, served well as a team with 30 aces in three sets. Jami Sickels was 17-17 with eight aces, Josie Sickels was 15-16 with seven aces, Gracie Russell was 15-17 with seven aces and Alli Thomsen served 9-11 with two aces.