Clarinda’s volleyball team had shown the ability to compete with the state-rated top teams in the Hawkeye 10 Conference, dropping a 3-2 match a week earlier to Class 2A third-ranked Carroll Kuemper, and taking a game from Class 4A No. 3 Harlan last month in a league match.
That offensive prowess was on display here Tuesday in a 25-17, 25-13, 25-20 victory over Creston.
The junior hitting duo of Darcy Sunderman and Jenny Bair hit 14 and 13 kills, respectively, in turning the tide whenever Creston posed a threat. Sunderman’s jump serve also reeled off long scoring runs as the Panthers never managed the energy level in challenging Shenandoah in a 3-2 loss last week.
“We were a totally different team from what we were at Shen,” said first-year coach Polly Luther. “I’m almost speechless. Communication, movement, coverage, passing, our setting wasn’t great, so our attacks were few and far between.”
In contrast to Sunderman’s and Bair’s relentless attacks, Creston’s kill leader was Amy Dunphy with eight. In serve receive, only Sam McDonald (8-9) and Natalie Mostek (7-12) finished above 50 percent.
“You have to have everything else in order first,” Luther said. “It’s like the center hiking the ball over the quarterback’s head.”
Luther said better blocking was necessary for smoother transition, rather than trying to dig out ripping attacks in the back row.
“We have to get our hands on something,” Luther said. “At Shen, we were slowing down the ball. But tonight we hardly touched it. When the ball is coming at you 90 miles an hour, it’s hard to get anything going.”
Serving inconsistency also plagued the Panthers when they did stop Clarinda’s attack. Yet, Creston was tied 12-12 in the first game before being outscored 13-5, and the third set was knotted at 20-20. Hannah Davison served four straight points as Creston finished the match with a passing error and four errant spikes, that either went into the net or out of bounds.
“They are a very good team,” Luther acknowledged. “But I told the girls, I don’t mind losing to a good team like that if I feel like went out and played our best volleyball. I can’t say that tonight.”
Clarinda is in fifth place in the conference at 4-4, and 17-10 overall. Creston is eighth in the league at 2-6, and 10-10 overall going into Saturday’s Winterset Tournament. The host Huskies are Creston’s opening regional foe.
The last regular season tuneup should be a competitive, as the Panthers close out the home campaign against Glenwood, which is 3-5 in league play and 13-13 overall after falling to Lewis Central Tuesday. The regional opener at Winterset is Monday, Oct. 22.
Serving (aces) — Natalie Mostek 11-12 (2), Brianna Maitlen 8-11 (3), Hanna Luther 8-8 (1), Sam McDonald 9-10, Haylee LaMasters 5-6, Amy Dunphy 3-4 (1).
Attacks (kills) — Amy Dunphy 12-14 (8), Sydney Dunphy 11-13 (5), Jenna Taylor 9-10 (4), Maitlen 11-15 (4), Mostek 13-16 (2), Sydney Rogers 2-3.
Blocks (solo-assists) — Mostek 0-1, Luther 0-1.
Setting (assists) — Luther 21.
Digs — Rogers 7, Mostek 3, Brenna Baker 2.
Serve receive — McDonald 8-9, Mostek 7-12.
Clarinda won the JV competition Tuesday, 25-16, 23-25, 15-4, 25-11.
“Our passing killed us tonight,” said Creston coach Mallory Peterson. “When we were getting the ball to target, things were fine. We just couldn’t seem to do that consistently.”
Marie Hood led the Panthers at the net, going 15-20 with five kills. Sarah Waigand and Ashley Harris each contributed four kills for Creston, now 7-6. Taylor Hudson had three kills.
Brenna Baker and Michelle Powers split the setting duty, with Baker compiling 14 assists. Audrey Fyock led the team in digs with nine. Serving leaders were Nicole Haley 11-12 with one ace, Baker 11-11 with one ace, Hood 8-9 with two aces and Fyock 11-12.
Creston’s freshmen stayed hot, coming off a tournament championship Saturday with a 25-5, 27-25, 25-18, 25-19 sweep of Clarinda Tuesday.
“In game one I thought we really played well,” coach Mike McCabe said. “We had good serving, we passed very well, and Josie Sickels and Gracie Russell really set the ball great. It resulted in some high kill numbers.”
Alli Thomsen had 10 kills for Creston, now 20-5-1. Sydney Dunphy added eight kills and Alyssa Higgins hit seven kills.
Dunphy had a hot serving hand, going 31-33 with 12 aces. Other serving leaders were Jami Sickels 23-23 with eight aces, Russell 18-21 with seven aces, Josie Sickels 11-13 with six aces and Higgins 13-15 with four aces.